Swansea Nursing Student Wins Welsh Learning Award

A first year Mental Health Nursing student from Swansea University’s College of Human and Health Sciences has been named Agored Cymru’s Access to Higher Education Learner of the Year 2013.

Trina Smith from Ammanford, Carmarthenshire was presented with her award at Coleg Sir Gar, where she studied the access to higher education qualification in nursing and health related professions before securing her place at Swansea University.

Trina entered the world of education in 2011 after a difficult period in her life.  After struggling with mental illness for many years, Trina met a new psychotherapist who saw past her symptoms and referred her for intensive treatment.  Trina said: “I finally saw a light at the end of the tunnel and the person who I felt was lost forever, finally began to re-emerge.  With a great deal of support and encouragement I submitted my application for the Access Course, however I was filled with trepidation. It was, in hindsight, actually the most significant and life-changing decision I ever made.”

With two young sons and her husband on a three month tour of Afghanistan, she has also had to learn how to juggle her parental duties with her studies.

She said: “I’m overjoyed to win this award. The access course has given me confidence that I never knew existed. I would never have imagined this time last year that I would have achieved all that I have, and for the first time in my life I am proud of who I am and the person I have become.”

“I am really enjoying the course at Swansea University, the lectures are going well and everyone on the course is supportive of one another.  I’m now looking forward to starting my first placement.”

“I hope, if nothing else, I can inspire anyone who feels mental illness is a life sentence, that it is possible to come back from the darkest of places, defy all odds and be stronger and happier than ever.”

Janet Barlow Chief Executive of awarding body Agored Cymru, said: “Trina really stands out as an excellent example and inspiration to others to achieve their full potential. Her story also shows how an access to higher education course can open new opportunities and lead to higher level qualifications and a new career.  Trina’s determination and fearlessness have demonstrated how much she has wanted to progress.”

Julia Terry, Trina’s personal tutor at Swansea University said: “Trina has made an excellent start on the BSc (Hons) Nursing programme. She is five weeks into her studies now, and is looking forward to starting her practice placement in November 2013.”

The Access to Higher Education Learner of the Year Award, organised by Agored Cymru, celebrates and recognises learners whose achievements have been inspirational or life-changing. Now in its third year, learners have to be nominated by their course tutor.