We caught up with Aisha Seedat who graduated from university last year. Living with MPS IVA Morquio and its related health complications didn't stop Aisha from completing her journey and graduating from De Montfort University in Leicester with a degree in Health studies.
I have a lot of faith and belief in myself which helped me to get into my dream university, studying what I wanted from the start.
What was your biggest concern before starting university?
Prior to starting university, I already had a lot of fears. During my A-levels I fell quite ill and spent a lot of the time in hospital so had little hope that I would be able to go to university. I always said to myself that I would never let my disability keep me down so why should I now? I have a lot of faith and belief in myself which helped me to get into my dream university, studying what I wanted from the start.
Did you have any unpredictable absences over the three years which affected your studies?
My health was reasonable until the end of my first year then I fell quite ill and was admitted to ICU, being told I may not make it as I had an abscess close to my trachea and any surgery could be fatal for me. It was quite daunting for me thinking that I had got through this far and I did not want to give up yet another dream on my bucket list. Though I was discharged it took me a while to recover. The university I was at were quite understanding and advised that I should extend some modules so I can hand in my assignments late or defer the whole year and restart when I felt better. I went with the decision to extend as I needed to focus on getting better. I also had hospital visits to Leicester, Manchester and Cambridge throughout my course but as I have been going up and down for most of my life it was quite manageable, and the next day I was always back in lectures.
What would you say to someone with a disability applying to college or university?
To those of you that are applying to college or university remember this is your journey to becoming independent. Before applying make sure you are open about the support you need otherwise you will struggle. All universities have something called a DSA, Disabled Students' Allowance, but you’ll need to be assessed. Disabled Students' Allowances can provide additional support and funding to UK students in higher and further education. It is extra funding designed to ensure a level playing field for disabled students and can be used to pay for specialist software, computer hardware and a range of study support and extra resources. Talk to the MPS Society about a DSA or look online for more information and make sure you do your reading and are well prepared.
You will face challenges but remember the university are there to support you in lots of ways. Universities are now more accepting of our needs and the people and friends surrounding us are far more welcoming.
My motto is, "if I can do it, so can you", so I believe you can aim high with the degree that you choose. And think wisely with the subject you chose to study as this will be a stepping stone for your future.
You will face challenges but remember the university are there to support you in lots of ways.
And what would you say to their parents?
This is a chance for your child to blossom into an adult and you’ll be so proud once they have started and completed each semester that goes by. University is not easy so be patient, you've just got to have a lot of faith and support for your child when things get tough.
Now that you have completed the course what would you say was the main thing that kept you going?
I always had full faith that I would complete the degree no matter what. I had the most phenomenal support from my lecturers that I built strong relationships with and to date that continues. Having someone believe in you when you are at your lowest really lifts you up and keeps you motivated.
My motto is, "if I can do it, so can you", so I believe you can aim high with the degree that you choose.
I never let my disability keep me from achieving what I want in life, like the degree in my hand, which is a huge milestone for me. As I said, if I can do it, so can you!