Care leaver offered place at leading university

20 May 2015 Student, Terrie Gemal

Terrie Gemal, who has been offered a place at King's College London

A single mother who grew up in care is celebrating being offered a place at one of the world’s top universities after overcoming the odds for a number of years.

Terrie Gemal is on her way to achieving her ambition after studying an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Health and Human Sciences at City and Islington College. She has now been offered a place at King’s College London to study a degree in Adult Nursing with the goal of specialising in trauma care.

When Terrie, now 20, was growing up her mum often had to be rushed to hospital. She was inspired by the nurses and paramedics who came to help her mum and decided that making a difference through nursing was the career for her.

"I cannot put in to words what it means to me to be offered these places"

Difficulties at home while Terrie was a teenager meant that many of her teenage years were spent in foster care. At 18 she fell pregnant and dropped out of education.

She said: “Despite my situation I was determined to pursue my ambition. I came to an open day at City and Islington College, I met the teachers, got a feel for the place and felt it was the best environment for me to study and get the support I needed.

“Returning to education is daunting and I was afraid that I would be treated like a stereotypical young mother and that I could not do it. I could not have been more wrong. My tutor told us as a group that failure was not an option. Being part of a group of determined and motivated young people helped me grow in confidence.”

Part of the requirements of the course and to progress to a nursing degree at university involves gaining practical experience. Terrie has been on placement at King’s College hospitals’ cardiac unit, and has also volunteered for St John’s Ambulance and the Army Cadets.

Asked why she felt King’s College, one of the top universities in the world, had offered her place, she said: “Because I have shown how much I want it. After living in care I feel so determined to make sure I do not become another statistic.

“I cannot put in to words what it means to me to be offered these places, save that I feel that I have finally done it, finally made it.”

Terrie’s tutor, Mel Brookstone, who as well as teaching works as a social worker, said: “Terrie’s progress and determination has been exceptional. Access courses provide a potentially life-changing platform from which adult learners can move on to university.  Access courses are excellent at instilling self-belief, as well as giving students the necessary tools to function while at university.”

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