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Class of 2018: Recognition for a remarkable young woman

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Published on 10 July 2018

Rebekah Self
Rebekah Self

Rebekah, 22, graduates BA (Hons) Business and Human Resource Management from the University of Sunderland this week, alongside over 3,000 young students – though few of those students can claim to have faced half the challenges that Rebekah has faced.   

Rebekah says: “When I was younger I was diagnosed with dyslexia and struggled in school for many years, especially primary. It wasn’t until went to the University of Sunderland that I discovered I had quite bad dyslexia.”

She was supported in her studies by the North East Regional Assessment Centre (NERAC) at the University of Sunderland. NERAC was set up in 1996, and is one of the UK's longest established assessment centres. They provide assessments of students’ study needs, and recommend the best possible combination of learning support and guidance appropriate to each student.

“NERAC were amazing,” says Rebekah. “I’ve had a pretty rough year with medical, work and family complications so I wasn’t expecting to graduate - never mind win an award.”

 Rebekah has won the CIPD North East Prize for her remarkable achievements in Business and Human Resources Management.

 Throughout her time at Sunderland Rebekah has worked with The North East Autism Society as a family activity support assistant, and now as a teaching assistant.

 What makes her story all the more remarkable is that in her last year as well as studying and teaching autistic children Rebekah also cared for her disabled father.

 Now, inspired by her experiences Rebekah is planning to start studying to teach primary school children who are classified as SEND (children with Special Education Needs and Disabilities).

 “To be honest I thought graduating was a long shot,” says Rebekah. “My tutors - Paul-Allan Armstrong and Kym Drady – made a real difference.

 “I’m so grateful to receive the award as it is extremely unexpected to be recognised in this way.”

Kym Drady, Programme Leader for Business and Human Resources Management at the University, nominated Rebekah for the CIPD North East Prize. She says: “I have dealt with hundreds of students over the years, but Rebekah’s story, and her achievements, really touched a nerve with me.

“As a young girl she was told she would never achieve a single GCSE, and was turned away by more than one college in the region. I can’t believe anyone could believe this young lady was unteachable.

“Her personal endeavour has got her where she is today, graduating with her degree, volunteering as a teaching assistant and with the CIPD Award – we are so proud of her.”