Posted Thursday 31 March 2022
A Kingston University nursing student's dreams of caring for people with learning disabilities have been made a reality after securing a scholarship through healthcare provider Salutem.
Emily Lake has become the first in her family to go to university after successfully applying for the Salutem Scholarship, which is offered to one learning disability or social work student at Kingston University and one accounting and finance student per year. It covers their full tuition fees, while a maintenance grant is also provided for the three years to help with accommodation and other living costs.
The 19-year-old, who comes from a low-income background, spoke of her belief that going to university and following her passion of caring for people with learning disabilities couldn't have been realised without the scholarship. "I've always had to fend for myself financially so I don't think without this funding I could have gone to university. I originally thought my only way of going was to work two jobs to pay for it, so I am very grateful. My family has been through a lot and had to move around the country for various reasons so when I found out I got the scholarship we had a big celebration and I cried for a few days because I was so happy," Emily said.
Now in the second year of her degree, Emily discovered her love of looking after others during her childcare and education level three diploma at Farnborough College of Technology.
"I did two days a week on placement in a nursery and a school and really bonded with the children who had learning disabilities. I worked closely with a little girl who had Williams Syndrome, a condition I wasn't aware of before, but she became my best friend and I loved helping her out – it was great learning process for me and I quickly realised I wanted to pursue a career in this field," she said.
Alongside her degree Emily works part-time at LinkAble, a charity in her hometown of Woking, Surrey that helps people with learning disabilities through dancing and singing classes as well as playing games with them.
Emily's work and degree studies have enabled her to spot traits and behaviours of certain learning disabilities, which she has put into practice both with identifying a need for support for a boy in a school she was working in, as well as suggesting the family seek specialist support for her sister, who has since been diagnosed with autism. "I've been learning from my degree and placements in my everyday life such as how to communicate with someone who has learning disabilities and how to manage behaviour. I enjoy the one-to-one interactions with people and knowing I am helping them – I really feel listened to," she said.
Emily is one of five students to have been given a scholarship by Salutem since the partnership with Kingston began in September 2020, with three studying learning disability nursing while identical twins who sought asylum in the UK are on the accounting and finance course. In addition to the financial support Salutem provides, they also get regular mentoring sessions from experienced professionals and the opportunity to undertake placements with the company, which supports those with learning disabilities and autism.
"It's been so enriching," Emily said of the partnership. "The support my lecturers have given me, as well as Gary and Zoe at Salutem has been incredible. They are all so inspiring and are always there when I need advice or support, I am so thankful to everyone for this amazing opportunity," she said.
CEO of Salutem Care and Education, John Godden, "It's a great privilege to work with Kingston University to enable students to access undergraduate degree courses, particularly those whose personal circumstances have created otherwise insurmountable barriers to this key part of their education. This forms part of our mission to encourage high achievers to undertake careers in social care.
"The interaction that we have had with the students, including immersive placement experiences, has been incredibly positive for all of us and has illustrated the power of providing support to highly motivated students."