Student of The Month: Noel Sharkey, University of Edinburgh

First of all, we’d like to thank all of our entrants to our current student of the month competition. We’ve received 22 encouraging, inspirational and heart-warming stories and had over 5,000 people participating in the vote.
We’ve analysed the results and are proud to present our winner and runner-ups.

Noel Sharkey
Noel, originally from Donegal in Ireland, is pursuing a career in Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He’s the first member of his family to attend university. He describes his studies both as challenging and rewarding, being at his patients side from beginning to end. Outside of his studies, Noel is a passionate advocate for human and equality rights. His hands on approach had him establish the Doctors for Yes campaign group in 2015 leading up to the YesEquality referendum in Ireland. We are proud that we were able to support Noel in his studies, and allow him to focus on his degree rather than having to worry about bills.

What we learned from Noel: Set your ambitions high and follow through. Noel is the perfect example that no matter where you are coming from and what your environment might think if you believe in yourself and work hard, you can get far!

Roy Billington
Roy is studying for a masters degree in International Relations and Diplomacy at the University of Birmingham. Same as Noel, he is the first from his family to go to university. He doubted his ability to complete a masters degree. But against the odds, he got accepted into his first choice course. He says: “My jubilation soon subsided as I was handed a dose of reality, after examining my financial options it became obvious that I would not be able to pay for my degree, and I was heartbroken. “ We are excited to support Roy on his educational journey and who knows maybe it’s a Ph.D. next for him 

What we learned from Roy: Never doubt your abilities. We like the saying nothing impossible; even the word itself says I’m possible! Roy showed us that taking chances, simply giving things a try can have a significant payoff and change your life prospects.

Hannah Kennerley
Hannah had quite a story to tell. She always dreamed of becoming a paramedic and after six years of applying, being declined, re-applying, working, etc. she finally got accepted into her dream course. Unfortunately, Hannah didn’t, unlike expected, qualify for government support. Her proud family did everything to support her and enable her to pursue her dream career. Into her second year, it seemed like she had to give her dream up or take a break and come back to it in a year. Another set back which Hannah was not willing to take, and we are happy to give her the helping hand she needed to finish her degree. She’s now six months from graduating.

What we learned from Hannah: Never give up! With the right end-goal, determination and support from your family and friends, you will get there eventually. Hannah, we salute you for your persistence and patience.