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Tommy Sharpe

Social work undergraduate student


I was worried that I didn't belong in the education system but everyone on the Access course was very supportive. Once I started handing the essays in and getting good grades, I was back on track and before I knew it I was about to start university!

Tommy's story

I left school at 15 and didn't have any GCSEs - I was one of those children that was happier climbing trees and running around. So, for me, it was set in stone - I wasn't going to go to university and, as soon as I could, I joined the Marines and was with them for 12 years.


In 2011, I was in Afghanistan when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. I had chemotherapy and it was during my three years at a rehabilitation centre that my plan to become a social worker began. I became more aware of other people's hardships and I realised that I could potentially help. I found out that I needed a degree to become a social worker but, as I didn't have the qualifications, would need to do a one-year Access course.

Initially, I was worried that I didn't even belong in the education system but everyone on the Access course was very supportive of each other and my confidence grew daily. Once I started handing the essays in and getting good grades, I was back on track and full steam ahead and before I knew it, I was about to start uni.


I can't recommend doing an Access course enough, I certainly wouldn’t have been where I am without it.


It's not just about getting the grades that I need to get qualified, but it's how it’s taught me to believe in myself and that I have a right to be in the education system, the same as anyone else.