Emma defies the odds to achieve Education Degree

Ruth Peterson | December 10, 2019

An inspirational young woman has broken barriers and shown “amazing perseverance and dedication” to gain a degree at Bradford College and begin a teaching career.

Throughout three years of her BA Honours Degree in Education Studies at Bradford College, Emma Kitson studied hard to achieve her dreams and aspirations.

The best time of my life

Emma said: “Bradford College was the best time of my life in regard to education. It would not have been possible without the support of my head of year Andrew Naylor, Kim Lawler my dissertation tutor and close university friend Christine Sparks alongside a few others.”

Triumph over adversity

Emma, who was born with a rare genetic disorder DiGeorge Syndrome/Velocardiofacial Syndrome (VCFS), said: “Gaining my degree felt overwhelming, but I was proud to be attending the ceremony.”

Also known as 22q11, DiGeorge syndrome is a condition present from birth caused by the defect of chromosome 22. It is thought to impact one in around 4,000 people. Emma, who lives in Oakenshaw, Bradford, was born weighing 4lb 6.5oz and has had eight operations including two for her spine within the same procedure and heart surgery and also palate. As a result of the condition, Emma has an impaired immune system.

It took Emma some time to realise her dreams and aims for the future, and in the New Year, she is delighted to start a full-time permanent job at a secondary school in Bradford working alongside children who have special educational needs.

Dedication to children with special needs

Emma’s specialist knowledge in Autism and Special Educational Needs saw her develop a passion for supporting the deaf culture, whereby she completed Level 1 Sign Language alongside her studies. Furthermore, her dedication to the deaf culture saw her complete her dissertation at a deaf school which allowed deaf primary school children to explore and be taught a specialist music programme.

When Emma finished her studies at the University Centre, she gained a job part-time working in a special school in Keighley which she absolutely adored. In September this year, Emma started a new position at a primary school working closely 1:1 with autistic children.

Anything is possible

Her proud mother Bev Kitson said: “Anything is achievable even with the odds stacked against you.”

Talking about the health conditions Emma had faced, Bev said: “We had her christened in hospital on the advice of Emma’s heart consultant. Doctors said the chances were Emma wouldn’t walk and her speech would be impaired. This was 20 years ago. We’ve nearly lost her three times during different procedures. Emma has defeated the odds three times, having been in intensive care, followed by HDU and as a teenager was back at school eight week after her spinal surgery.”

Having conquered so many obstacles early in her life, there were times when Bev fought to keep Emma in the education system and fought for the educational needs that Emma required support with. Emma struggled to pass her GCSE’s but went on into the sixth form and then onto Bradford College.

“She deserves her success.”

Tutor in Primary Science Kim Lawler, who taught Emma at Bradford College, said: “Emma has shown amazing perseverance and determination, she has always tried hard and deserves her success. It has been a privilege to support her during her course, to see her grow in so many ways and achieve so much.”

Bev said: “While at primary school, Emma decided her career path and continued with this path into the secondary school system. She’s been independent since coming to Bradford College with disability support. She passed her driving test after six attempts but she got there, she has her own car and in the near future she will walk into her first full-time job as a teaching assistant. At 21 she’s got to where she wants to get to through determination.”

If you are interested in studying for a career in education, you can find out more about Bradford College’s Education Studies Courses on the website.


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