XCEL STUDENT OF THE YEAR AWARDS 2010
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WINNER OF Xcel Student of the Year 2010: Robert Nichols
Robert has encountered many difficult and traumatic setbacks in achieving his degree in Geography. Before coming to UWE, Robert withdrew from Exeter University and moved home to care for his mother full-time when she was diagnosed with what doctors initially considered to be an inoperable brain tumour. She underwent treatment for her condition which she recovered from successfully. Robert then enrolled at UWE to study a BSc in Geography and Environmental Management.
After starting his course, Robert’s grandfather, to whom he was very close, passed away at a time of great difficulty for his family. On completion of his second year, his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Not only did this greatly affect Robert’s ability to study, but he found himself with the responsibility of being a full-time carer for his mother. Robert decided to take a year out from study to support his mother at this difficult time. He subsequently chose to spread his final year over a two year period allowing him to spend extended periods at home, whilst completing his studies.
In his final two years, Robert’s sister enrolled at UWE to study a Law Conversion post-graduate course, which she was funding herself. Robert volunteered to take on the role of full-time carer for his mother to allow his sister to study and avoid the risk of the large sum of fee money being wasted were she not to complete her course, which is a further testament to Robert’s selflessness
Robert’s own physical situation became challenging 18 months ago due to a trapped nerve in his neck. This caused him to lose sensation in fingers on his right hand and has left him with pain running between his right arm and his neck. Despite this, Robert achieved a well deserved and hard earned upper second class degree on completion of his course.
He now continues to care for his mother part-time and is seeking volunteer work or work experience, with a view to joining a graduate training scheme. Robert is an inspiration to anyone who has faced similar challenges and he is a model of compassion and selflessness.