For Jenny Fletcher, working as a primary school classroom assistant for nine years inspired an interest in language that has resulted in a first class honours BSc in Language and Linguistics from the University of Ulster.
The Newtownabbey woman attended the University as a mature student and it was during her second year that she received a dyslexia diagnosis – something she had suspected for many years.
“My own educational experiences, particularly at primary school level, have played a massive part in my interest in language and linguistics,” said Jenny.
“These experiences were horrific. Spelling and correct grammar were literally drummed into me, but yet the education system at primary, secondary and college level failed to recognise that I am dyslexic.
“It was thanks to my tutors and Student Support Services at the University of Ulster that I was finally diagnosed.
“I couldn’t have asked for better support. My lecturers were my lifeline and I am truly grateful. I could not have achieved my degree without each and every one of them.
“I’ve had a dream to teach for as long as I can remember. However, I never ever believed that I had the ‘brains’ for university.
“My role as a classroom assistant involved me providing one-to-one support for two children with special educational needs. Both of whom experienced language difficulties and both worked alongside a speech and language therapist, as did I.
“The work carried out in these sessions widened my views and give me the firm opinion that all children could benefit from primary teachers with linguistic knowledge and experience.
“I would like to express sincere thanks to the University of Ulster and the linguistics department, particularly to Dr Catrin Rhys for advising me to take the steps to getting diagnosed and supporting me in the correct manner.
“Without this diagnosis I believe I would have struggled through the rest of my degree and not achieved my best or anything close to it.
“I am dyslexic, but I have against all the odds achieved a first class honors degree and, I am hopefully going to achieve my dreams and teach.
“I plan to use my personal, professional and academic experiences to shape and impact my future and inspire other students and people who don’t believe in themselves.”