Mature student overcomes the odds to win 1st Class Degree

A former bench joiner from Rhyl has graduated with a first class honours degree after a drastic change of career due to an occupational illness.

Colin with his wife on his Graduation DayColin with his wife on his Graduation DayMature student Colin Kott, 46, not only had to deal with the shock of giving up his trade as a joiner and return to education after developing occupational lung disease, but he was also diagnosed with dyslexia during his time here at Bangor.

Colin said: “I don’t think the full significance of obtaining a first class honours degree has sunk in yet.  I think graduation day, like my wedding day, has been one of the proudest, most memorable days in my family’s life.  When I embarked on my educational journey, I never envisaged achieving so much.

“I returned to education through “Second Chance” which entailed leaning basic mathematics and literacy at Rhyl library.  I proceeded to complete an Access to Higher Education course for which I was also awarded “Achiever of the Year” and was then accepted for a BA Honours degree in Sociology at Bangor.

“Returning to higher education as a mature student can only be described as a roller coaster ride with highs and lows.  The highs are all the things I learnt and the friendships I made along the way. The lows were things that life can throw at you that are out of your control.

“Unfortunately during my second year my wife suffered a stroke, naturally caring responsibilities took priority over academic studies.  However, despite this traumatic life event I remained in university and fortunately my wife went on to make a full recovery.

“Despite such set backs the combination of my determination to succeed, along with the excellent support provided by the university made achieving a first class degree possible. Both tutors and administration staff at Bangor University excel in providing student support.  The University also has an outstanding Disability Service team who work closely with the Dyslexia Unit in providing extra learning support for students.

"The highlight of the course so far for me has been the publication of one of my social theory essays in the Student Journal. My next step is to obtain a basic skills teaching certificate so I can return to "Second Chance" as a tutor and help others improve their level of education.

“I can only hope that my story of academic achievement from a situation of desperation inspires others who find themselves in a similar position.”

Publication date: 10 July 2011