A student who refused to give up on her “dream” of becoming a nurse in the face of adversity has been nationally recognised for her determination.
Kimberly Quant, from Exeter, has won the CAVA Keith Fletcher Award for ‘outstanding commitment to study’, having overcome many illnesses and losing her speech, while also being a mother of four.
“This young lady is a positivity machine, nothing gets in her way”
At 16 Ms Quant had barely any GCSEs and thought she would never get into nursing, so decided to gain qualifications in travel and tourism.
However, her longing to become a nurse didn’t disappear and so when she spotted an advert for the access to higher education diploma in nursing at Bicton College in Devon, she took the plunge and applied.
Ms Quant said it was “completely amazing” to win the award, which celebrates the best in access to higher education students across the UK.
The awards are there to highlight the positive effect the education pathway can have on people’s lives.
“I stand up for the people that didn’t get the same opportunities that others did and have proven we can do it,” she added.
“I had so little belief in myself, but I knew where I wanted to be,” she explained.
At the beginning of her access course, Ms Quant said she was not very academic and struggled with basic maths and English literature.
However, she added that with the help of her tutors, “I didn’t just complete my access diploma, I completely smashed it”.
Kevin Smale, team leader of the access programme, said Ms Quant “is arguably the most extraordinary learner I have ever had the pleasure of working with in 18 years of access teaching”.
“When I interviewed Kimberley, she came over as a chatty, high energy, very enthusiastic young woman who had maybe not made the most of her learning opportunities during her school days,” he explained.
“She did not possess either her English or maths GCSEs, but there are times when we have to make a professional judgement about borderline applicants and in Kimberley’s case she basically gave me no choice here, this was her time and she was going to do her access diploma in nursing,” Mr Smale added.
“I had so little belief in myself, but I knew where I wanted to be”
However, it wasn’t just the academic challenge that laid ahead of Ms Quant.
Over Christmas last year, she was rushed into hospital twice and was unable to communicate.
The nursing student re-gained her speech very quickly and emailed Mr Smale requesting an extension of a week for one her essays that was due.
“This young lady is a positivity machine, nothing gets in her way,” said Mr Smale.
Ms Quant added that it was her nursing access course that helped her to get through this difficult time.
She said: “I focused on my studies and got my work done and in on time regardless and I was so proud.”
Thanking the staff at Bicton College, Ms Quant continued: “The education I was given has been amazing and I truly believe it was the belief of my tutors that got me through it.”
She advised to those who are uncertain about getting back into education to not “second think it”.
“Take every single opportunity that comes your way, because the feeling you get on completion is like no other,” she added.
“My kids have a mum to be proud of now, and never think you’re not good enough or never had the right grades for university; if you want something enough you’ll get there,” added Ms Quant.