James Smith 3.JPG

Before coming to college I was a lorry driver for Sainsbury’s. I had been with Sainsbury’s for eight years but driving for 27 years. I suffer from a disability and had to go for regular medical checks with the DVLA. I knew that it was only a matter of time before I was unable to drive for a living.

I knew I had to start thinking about the future but coming to college was a major life change for me. I didn’t really have a clue about what I wanted to study. The Student Services Team were great and helped me make a decision.

I started in 2012 on the NC Business course. As I had been out of education for so long it was better to start at a non-advanced level. The Inclusive Learning Team were fantastic. Due to my disability they assessed my study areas in college and at home to ensure my needs were met. I was provided with ergonomic chairs and a laptop which really helped.

I progressed to the HNC in 2013 then onto the HND.

Before starting college I suffered from post-traumatic stress and depression. I was on medication for five years which I now no longer need. I truly believe that this is due to my college experience, meeting new people and gaining new skills.

College has been the best three years of my life. I have completely changed as a person. My confidence has improved as have my negotiating skills. I now have a much more positive outlook and am much calmer. I have much more self-control and I am much better at handling difficult situations. I always try to take a proactive approach.

I learned about managerial techniques, policies and procedures. I have a sound knowledge of business law. I now have fantastic IT skills and can use a range of software packages with confidence.

My class was a mix of older and young students which was a good balance. We supported and each other and shared experiences. The lecturers were fantastic and so dedicated. They often gave up their own time to provide extra help, working through lunch breaks and replying to e-mails at night. They related course work to real-life situations. I was able to connect to experiences from past employment. This helped me understand more clearly. I had experienced first-hand, managers who lacked the appropriate skills and who dealt with situations poorly.

It’s amazing to be receiving this award, I am totally over the moon. I was very surprised as there were so many great students in my group. Considering I used to suffer from depression I have come along tremendously.

I am progressing to UWS to study Business Management and aim to eventually become a Senior Manager in a reputable company or perhaps start up a business of my own.