Robert Jenner :: [*VIDEO*]-
Nursing at North Glasgow College (2007-8) :: Graduated (2011) with a degree in Learning Disabilities Nursing from GCU
Robert, a 45-year-old father of three grown sons, is originally from the Glasgow area, but he has a hard time naming a “home town”.  His family life was unsettled; they moved around frequently when he was a child, including a stint down in England, where he attended secondary school. Robert says, ”School was a nightmare for me in general. I had a bad experience throughout my school years.”

Robert left school at age 15 to work as a painter and decorator. He continued in that line of work for many years, but a downturn in available work and a recommendation from a friend led him to take a job as an auxiliary nurse. It was during this period that he first began to consider a career in nursing.  Many of the staff who worked on the wards commented favourably upon his good bedside manner with patients, and several encouraged him to look into training because they believed he would make a good nurse. “I am good at communicating with people. It’s one of my strong points. I understand how people feel when they are going through a difficult time, being in hospital.  A kindly face, a wee bit of banter and you could get the job done, and make people feel better, too.”  

Robert found the idea of a career in nursing quite appealing, but he didn’t act on it until he turned 40, and experienced a mid-life turning point. He had greatly enjoyed the work as an auxiliary nurse and remembered the encouragement he’d received from hospital staff, so he enquired at North Glasgow College. He was directed to the SWAP Access to Nursing programme, and it was only then, at the age of 41, that he discovered he has dyslexia.

Having that diagnosis made him realise that many of his difficulties at school had been rooted in a real condition that could be managed, albeit with hard work. Subsequently he was able to access support and technology to assist his learning, and became active in student engagement and representation, standing – and being voted in – for Student Association president. This experience increased his confidence and it was "a fantastic character-building process as well.” Robert also initiated and led a dyslexia support group within the college to ensure that others could more easily receive peer support and succeed in their studies.

While he admits that his dyslexia requires him to work a lot harder in order to keep up, he is determined to succeed. Back in 2008 he said, “I know for a fact that when I go to uni I’m not going to fail. I’ve got to work three times harder than the others and I’ve accepted that fact and that’s what I do.” Robert progressed to university with several other students from his class at North Glasgow College so he hasn’t found it a problem to make friends.  He has also found time to become a  student mentor and a peer support leader. Indeed, he did very well at GCU and has since graduated with a nursing degree, specialising in Learning Disability Nursing.  He now works as a community Learning Disability Nurse in Dumfries & Galloway.

During his studies, his work placements were in hospitals and with community service providers throughout Glasgow, and he held several part-time jobs, as well, including jobs with a service provider as a support worker with adults with learning disabilities, and as an auxiliary nurse. He also worked as a class representative trainer with Student Participation in Quality Scotland (Sparqs) which he chose to do, in part, to maximise his experience, but also to bring in some money because finances were tight.  Time-management was another big issue during his years of studying.  With his various part-time jobs, the demands of family life and his studies, he found that it could be hard-going to juggle everything, but he managed.

Robert is grateful for the opportunity provided to him by the SWAP programme and would recommend it for other adults who perhaps struggled in school but want a second chance at education. His advice: "Go for it! Every one of us has the ability to succeed. All we need is the opportunity to do so.”

2013 Update

Click the links below to view video clips from Robert as he talks about returning to education, finding out that he has dyslexia and coping with the challenges of being a student again.

Clip 1

Clip 2 


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