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Jess Denson

Jess Denson, 25, from St Helens, recently graduated with a first class degree from the University of Chester in Early Years Practice after struggling with dyslexia which had affected her confidence to pursue her studies.

Jess started at University Centre St Helens and qualified as a nursery nurse. After a period of working she returned to complete a Foundation Degree in Early Years Practice before progressing to the degree.

Jess said she was able to return to studying as she could work at the same time and she received so much support from her tutors and lecturers.

She said: “Personally, I have always found education and learning challenging, but at the same time, I enjoy working hard and learning. I have always known that I am dyslexic and because of this I felt I lacked in many attributes which are needed to study for a degree. I found that time management was a challenge, with being at work and then finding the time study. However, the lecturers at St Helens college were able to sit down with me during tutorials. I found these very useful and sometimes I found that I needed the previous sessions broken down for me to understand what was being asked of me.

“The best part of the course was gaining additional knowledge and skills to further support myself in my career. The degree gave me more confidence and self-esteem through participating in group podcasts, seminars, assignments and my dissertation.  As the classes were based during an evening, the lectures always tried to make lessons more engaging. To add to this, because students like myself worked within early years during our time of study, we were able to learn from each other’s experiences.

“In the future, I would like to return to education and study for my PGCE, from this I would like to progress into becoming a teacher or special educational needs teacher.”

University Centre St Helens is one of the partner colleges working with University of Chester and delivering the Level 6 top up programme Early Years Practice. Jess started her studies at Level 2 and worked her way up to Level 6 gaining her first class honours degree.

Cath Barker, Lecturer in Early Years Health and Care at University Centre St Helens, said: “Jess always had a determination and when she achieved her first class honours degree could hardly believe it as she had always lacked confidence in herself. I have personally seen Jess progress both academically and professionally.”

Dr Chandrika Devarakonda, Associate Professor of Diversity and Inclusion Faculty of Education and Children's Services at the University of Chester, said: “We work very closely with our partner colleges and we are so proud of the students that progress through to a degree from the University of Chester.

“Jess is a fantastic example of what can be achieved with determination and the right support in place. We are all so proud of her.”

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