Sunday 1st January 2017
College Access student leads the charge of women into STEM careers
John Leggott College student Layla Graham, who completed her Access to HE Science Diploma in June 2016, has now won a prestigious award for her commitment to a career in engineering.
Layla joined the college in September 2015 without any formal qualifications. After raising her children and being unemployed for over 10 years, she decided she wanted to pursue her dream career in Engineering. After exploring local colleges, Layla found that only John Leggott College would allow her to sit her GCSEs and A Levels whilst studying for an Access course to enable her to apply to University. Her persistence, perseverance and absolute commitment were recognised in her initial application interview, and she was swiftly offered a place.
Layla enrolled onto the English IGCSE and Maths GCSE courses, and after hard work and determination she progressed from D grades to achieving an A and A* respectively. She then powered through the modules of her Access to HE Science course with the support of her tutors. When it became apparent that Layla was likely to excel on her course, her tutor Vanessa Campbell encouraged her to think about applying to a Russell Group University, something that Layla had not thought possible.
“I found the UCAS process very stressful, so Vanessa stayed late in the evening to help me with my personal statement, discuss my options and help me choose the right course for me. I couldn’t believe it when I was offered a place at the University of York for an Integrated Masters in Electronic and Computer Engineering – I carried the letter everywhere with me, because I just didn’t think I was good enough to get in!”
As a result of Layla’s achievements, Vanessa nominated her for the Cambridge Access Validating Agency (CAVA) award for Outstanding Academic Achievement. Not only did Layla achieve a Distinction in her Access to HE Science course, and gain a place at a prestigious Russell Group University, she was instrumental in setting up an online forum to share ideas with other students. Now she is happily enrolled onto her degree course, she has also become involved in the SWAN program at the University of York, supporting women into engineering. When she won the CAVA award, Layla travelled with Vanessa to the awards ceremony in Cambridge, where she delivered a very emotional speech to a packed audience!
Speaking of her time at the college, Layla said “Everything positive that has happened to me starts and ends with the John Leggott College Access course. The support I received from my tutors has changed my life and my family’s life, and has enabled me to support my children through their exams. My husband has enrolled onto his own Access course also a result, and wouldn’t have done this without seeing how successful I have been. I feel like my time at John Leggott College has given me a future that didn’t seem possible before. Every time I see my award on the living room wall, I think “yes, I can do this””.
Vanessa Powell, Access Teacher at John Leggott College, said “Layla has succeeded significantly beyond any academic expectations due to her drive, resilience, perspicacity, positive mental attitude and genuine love of learning which has established within her a desire to pursue an academic career. Layla was an outstanding student who travelled a substantial and significant distance in her academic journey in a short space of time, where a positive and life transforming result has been achieved solely as a result of her individual determination and drive to succeed.”
With her sights set firmly on eventually completing a PhD in her chosen field, Layla is also determined to promote engineering to young people and women. Part of this involves her plans to use a portion of her bursary to donate a Lego Mindstorms set to her local primary school, to encourage children to start building and programming. She is also an ambassador for the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and continues to inspire the next generation of engineers who challenge the conventions of their circumstances and strive for personal success.
Enrolling onto a John Leggott College Access course is a hugely positive step to kick-start your new career, and give you the qualifications, skills and confidence to pursue your goals. Start your journey now and contact our team on 01724 282998.