A Health Studies student with a rare genetic condition has "never felt as included" as she does at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).
Aisha Seedat said the highlight of her first year is "everything", from being accepted and making friends to support from her tutors and keeping well and out of hospital.
Now she has made inroads to achieving her ambition of helping others with the same disease, Morquio syndrome, also known as MPS IV.
The 19-year-old said: "I have enjoyed my course so far! The university has a lovely atmosphere and I don't feel judged.
"The tutors have adapted lectures when needed. I've made a new set of friends and helping each other is a big deal."
Morquio syndrome is a disease of the metabolism in which the body is missing or does not have enough of the enzyme needed to break down long chains of sugar molecules. It affects Aisha's breathing, hearing and mobility and she can have good and bad days with aches and pains.
Aisha has lots of support at DMU - but she hasn't always felt this welcomed.
"I didn't have a good time at college," she said. "I passed my GCSEs but faced barriers during my A-levels - for example the automatic card readers were at a height I couldn't reach.
"I went into a depression and I also had a hip dislocation, so spent time in hospital."
Aisha stuck with her A-levels and "impressed herself" when she passed. However the time out did impact on her grades.
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Applying through Clearing, she was offered a place on Health Studies after meeting with the programme leader.
"The more time I spent in hospital the more I felt inspired to help others by changing to Health Studies," said Aisha. "I wanted to study close to home and I had heard a lot about DMU and it was my dream to start here!"
She is now benefiting both personally and professionally.
Aisha said: "When I learn something on my course I adapt it to my surroundings.
"I would like to go on to help people like me - there is not enough awareness around disabilities and mental health conditions in the media."
Aisha already helps raise awareness of her condition by doing charity work for the Society for Mucopolysaccharide (MPS) Diseases.
She also supports Drop of Compassion, a Leicester-based charity that works in Malawi, Africa to provide long-term, sustainable solutions in areas such as health and education, along with the Cure International Hospital, which treats children with disabilities.
"My dad is from Malawi and there is a lot of poverty in the rural areas, so sometimes I go over and help with charity work," added Aisha, who will be fundraising for a water irrigation project this summer.
Senior Health Studies Lecturer Jenny Sanders is delighted that Aisha is enjoying a positive university experience, adding that the course has recently been renamed Health and Wellbeing in Society and revalidated.
She said: "The revalidation was an opportunity for Lisa Millar, Programme Leader, to consult future employers on developing a name that was representative of the content.
"It also allowed for a few module amendments to reflect the contemporary issues in health, and health and social care policy."
Posted on Thursday 25th May 2017