Don’t let dyslexia hold you back!

Interview with PhD student Angela Sibley-White

I wanted to share a conversation I had recently with Angela Sibley-White, who is studying for a PhD at De Montfort University. Angie has dyslexia and so she is eligible for 1:1 study skills support, which she accesses from me as her tutor at the Learning Support Centre. We’ve been working together since March 2013.

Earlier setbacks
Angie told me she did well at school up to her GCSEs but did less well at A-level. She dropped out of university first time around as she couldn’t keep up with the work. Angie then pursued a successful career in the design industry but following redundancy and a maternity break she was ready for a change of direction. She decided to try again with higher education and enrolled at DMU on the BA Education Studies course, which she hoped would fit in with raising her son.

Dyslexia assessment
Again, Angie struggled with note-taking and academic writing, so around the end of the first term she approached Student Services who identified that Angie might by dyslexic. Angie said for her it was a “relief” to have confirmation of dyslexia after a formal assessment, as the diagnosis provided an explanation for study difficulties she was experiencing. Angie was referred to the Learning Support Centre for study skills support.

Academic achievements
As Angie’s skills developed, so did her confidence and determination to succeed. She gained a First in her BA and received the DMU Frank May Silver Award for Academic Excellence (for the highest average mark in her year group). Since then, Angie has completed an MA, gaining a Distinction, and is just starting her second year of PhD study, as well as delivering some teaching at the university. Recently, she has written an academic journal article that has been accepted for publication with very positive feedback.

I knew I was good enough …. I can do this
It’s an impressive academic career to date and I asked Angie what she was most proud of. She replied: “I suppose in a way I’m really proud of getting to the point of being able to do a PhD but almost I’m most proud of the moment when I handed in an essay which I knew was good, and I got a really high mark – something like 88% – and I knew I was good enough. It was about the end of my second year, and I thought ‘actually, I can do this’ and from that point on, my confidence has grown. It was great that I got my First and Distinction, but it came from that.”

Written by Sue Naylor, Study Skills Tutor at the Learning Support Centre

If you have been referred to the Learning Support Centre for study skills support, please contact your tutor to book a meeting – or phone the office team on 0116 254 8881