Fleur Pomponne

Learning Disability Nursing - BSc (Hons)

Fleur was all set to study Learning Disability Nursing when a flare-up of their chronic health condition meant they had to re-sit Year 13. Since joining BCU, they have received support from staff and students to ensure that they can take a full part in university life. They now want to show others that there is a place in the Nursing profession for people with chronic illness and invisible disabilities.

“When I started secondary school, my academic goals changed from wanting to study fashion to studying something in healthcare, the tricky bit was finding which aspect of healthcare best suited me. I only became set on going to university in Year 9 or so when we picked our GCSE options. Once I had started looking into applying for university I had initially planned to study medicine, but after a lot of consideration it just didn't seem the right fit for me at the time, hence why nursing was far more appealing. That was when I discovered BCU. It's one of the few universities in the UK that offers a Learning Disability Nursing course! So when I visited the open day in 2017, I knew it was the place for me.

After I had submitted my application, had my interview and got my offer, my hypermobility spectrum disorder went into a flare that prevented me from sitting my exams, so, unfortunately, I had to re-sit Year 13. My body then went into another flare-up, but this time I was determined to push through and sit my exams, it felt like my last opportunity to try to achieve my dream. I turned up to all of my exams, in so much pain some days that I couldn't see or think clearly! Looking back I don't even really know how I did it, all I know is that I did.

I'm really proud that I've made it here but since starting I'm even more proud that I haven't given up. It's overwhelming sometimes having to manage a life-altering condition and a degree as intense as nursing is, but I've had so much support from the Faculty staff, the friends I've made at uni, and all of the staff that work on the disability support team.

When I joined Birmingham City University, I was invited to a Disabled Students Welcome Day. It was a really good day as it told us what services are available to us and we got to meet other students with a variety of disabilities/difficulties. We were informed who the relevant people we can speak to are and it was so encouraging to see that a large number of the staff working in the disability support team are people who live with a variety of different disabilities themselves

As a student with a disability, I was emailed by several people to have appointments to discuss my health issues. After all the different meetings to ensure that relevant staff were made aware of my health problems, I was able to voice my concerns about starting my degree and was encouraged by all of the staff that I’d met that any adjustments needed would be made to ensure that I would be able to reach my full potential. I thought that was amazing.

I've joined a handful of societies since starting at BCU. For example, the Disabled Student’s Society, the LGBTQ+ Society, Earth Society and the Burlesque Society. The first two are very close to my heart. I worked as an event coordinator for the Earth Society and have been involved with the university’s green impact strategy and sustainability planning. Being in the Burlesque Society gets my heart pumping! I knew the moment I started at BCU I wanted to join a society that was somewhat active, and even with health issues I still feel encouraged and supported to get involved with anything and everything I feel able to. As well as joining societies, I have also worked with the Student Nurse Project since the beginning of my degree as a student curator.

Since joining the University, I think I have become more resilient, more determined to complete my studies and I have become even more of an advocate and activist. Whilst I have the fortune of studying at a university which offers such amazing support for their students, both abled and disabled, there are many people who don't have so much good fortune and I strongly believe that needs to change.

This year, I have been nominated for Student Nurse of the Year: Learning Disabilities from the Student Nursing Times Awards. It came as a surprise to me but I've done various projects through university and in my own time so that is likely to be why. Looking back at when I first started my degree, I had nothing to worry about, as this shows that not only have I been able to do it, I've also been able to achieve excellence while doing so.

When I graduate from Birmingham City University, I want to have made some kind of impact. For me personally, I want to show people that studying to become a nurse isn't exclusively for able-bodied people. I want to show people that there are places in this profession for a variety of people with different chronic and invisible disabilities. It'll be hard to accomplish, I know, but I think that if I can keep on going with my degree, get my qualification and earn my NMC pin, I'll be able to encourage others that had doubts like I did, such as, ‘Am I really able enough to do this degree? What will other people think? What support is there for people like me?’

To me, I AM BCU means being supported to achieve my potential, no matter what.”

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