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Paralympic star urges others to follow her lead and take 'life-changing' New Beginnings course 

students studying at UEL

Vanessa Daobry backs access course for mature students, saying 'it's never too late to change'

Paralympic star Vanessa Daobry is urging anyone interested in becoming a mature student and studying for a university degree to follow her example by signing up for the University of East London’s ‘New Beginnings’ course.

Due to high demand, UEL has expanded the number of places available on the 12-week course, which prepares mature students who lack traditional educational qualifications to move on to a full degree course. 

Vanessa, 39, completed the course last year while preparing for the Rio Paralympics and is now back at UEL studying for a degree in Sport and Exercise Science. 

“If someone is like me, a slightly older student, I would say look at something like New Beginnings,” she said. 

“It’s great because it’s a short course so it’s not going to take up a whole year and it’s not subject specific.

“I never thought, getting towards 40, that I would be a student, let alone an athlete and a Paralympian. I would say go for it because it’s never too late to change. 

“It’s never too late to do something different and pursue your passion. Find out what your passion is and just do it. You don’t want everything to be the same.”

Vanessa, who finished fifth in the F34 shot put final in Rio, is currently dividing her time between degree study and training for the summer athletics season, when she will be vying for a medal at the World ParaAthletics Championships at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford.

She is also helping with the organisation of the championships as a member of the ‘Inspiration Programme Board’.

“I’m loving the degree,” she said. “It's very challenging juggling being a full-time athlete and a full-time student but I'm doing the best that I can and the support I'm getting through the university from lecturers, coaches, support services and my fellow student body is amazing.  I’m also a student rep for my degree!”

Vanessa is hoping others will follow her lead and use UEL’s New Beginnings course to fulfil their potential in life.

“It’s like an access course so it allowed me to gain the experience and the knowledge that would be required for me to do the degree I wanted to do,” she said.

“Without it, I wouldn’t have been able to access university because I simply didn’t have enough of an educational background to qualify for the course. 

“It teaches you so many things but, overall, it teaches you how to be a student – what to expect and what’s expected of you. It’s a very, very good course.”