Students graduate from UEL course designed to prepare participants for a degree

The University of East London's New Beginnings graduation class Picture: UEL

The University of East London's New Beginnings graduation class Picture: UEL - Credit: UEL

It’s not just A-level students who are set to start a degree course in September - participants on the University of East London’s new beginnings course are ready to do so as well.

Carl Sawyer Picture: UEL

Carl Sawyer Picture: UEL - Credit: UEL

Those taking the course, which is designed for people who do not have sufficient formal qualifications to begin a degree or who have been out of education for a long period of time, have celebrated their success with a graduation ceremony at the UEL’s Stratford campus.

Among the 277 graduates ready to take their next step towards a degree was Carl Sawyer, who took the course ahead of a degree in sports therapy.

“I was in a very serious motorcycle accident,” the 43-year-old said.

“My leg was badly crushed, I had serious nerve damage and needed four major surgeries to reconstruct my leg.

Georgina Curtis and Gabrielle Watts Picture: UEL

Georgina Curtis and Gabrielle Watts Picture: UEL - Credit: UEL

“I was told by all the experts that I’d never walk again, never be fully functioning, and would need sticks to get around. I was also in constant pain.”

He spent three years on crutches and put on a lot of weight - but his subsequent physical transformation has motivated him to become a personal trainer.

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“I got fed up at my situation so decided to learn about the human body, exercise and rehabilitation, and started lifting weights and getting fit – basically doing all the things I was told I’d never do,” he said.

Another of the participants, Georgina Curtis, attended last week’s ceremony with her friend and current UEL student, Gabrielle Watts.

Georgina, 23, said: “I’m really happy, it means I’m ready for university and I’m pursuing what I want to do.

“I was at college doing art and design but the teachers said I wouldn’t be able to handle doing the next level up, so I had to stop.

“It was thanks to Gabrielle’s support that I found out about new beginnings.

“I’ve proven that I can do it, and I’m going to start my degree.”

Some of the course participants fit in their studies around other commitments, while others join after moving to the UK from another country, often when English is not their first language.

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