Melissa overcomes the odds to secure English degree place

Portrait image of Melissa Lander

Access to HE student Melissa has thrived at UCEN Manchester while living with anxiety.

UCEN Manchester student Melissa Landers has overcome the odds both personally and academically to secure her place on an English degree course at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Melissa enrolled on the Access to English, Writing and Media course in 2020 – amid the Covid-19 pandemic – after being encouraged to apply by her sister, having previously only attended secondary school part-time due to her anxiety. As a result, Melissa left school with few GCSEs and found attending college too difficult, meaning a return to  education was a daunting prospect.

However, Melissa has thrived at UCEN Manchester, in both her studies and her professional development. Despite only one and a half days of contact time per week, Melissa took a ‘full-time’ approach and created a week-by-week study programme. She has received distinctions for every assignment, has been actively involved whenever guest speakers have attended classes and has also written for review websites and Netflix, all while experiencing extreme anxiety and barely leaving her house.

Over the course of the year, Melissa has become a key mentor for her fellow students, offering help and support throughout the year and coaching them to reach their full potential.

Around her studies, Melissa has also found time to volunteer at the LTE Group’s annual Teaching and Learning Conference, which was delivered virtually to thousands of educators, where she advised tutors on how to help students with anxiety while discussing her own experiences.

Melissa said: “Because I was depressed for a long time, I didn’t think I could do anything like this. I’d been looking at this course for about a month. I took a chance one day and when I was accepted, the feeling was terrifying.

“However, the remote learning helped me to develop confidence, as I could sit behind the screen and feel valued and heard by classmates and tutors.

Applying for this course was the best decision of my life.

"I still find it hard to contemplate that I could be so supported and in turn achieve all my academic and personal goals. For the first time, I’m proud of myself.”

Tutor Glenn Meads added: “Mel has risen to the challenge of online learning during a global pandemic, seizing it as an opportunity to gain a degree, support others and build her confidence. She has been amazing to teach and will excel at university.”

You can find out more about the Access to Higher Education courses at UCEN Manchester and apply today.