First-class Annie manages dyslexia

Annie Fowden graduates with first-class honours. Picture: contributed
Annie Fowden graduates with first-class honours. Picture: contributed
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EDINBURGH student, Annie Fowden from Grassmarket, has achieved significant academic and career success after continuously learning how to manage her dyslexia.

Annie, 22, became aware of her dyslexia when she was just five years old and had struggled with aspects of learning throughout her early education due to the limited knowledge about dyslexia and how to manage it within her school.

As a result, she was unsure whether university was a viable option for her and thought that career opportunities may be restricted. However, Annie believes dyslexia is becoming more widely recognised and that greater support with how to manage dyslexia is now available.

After securing a place at Queen Margaret University (QMU) to study Events Management in 2012 and after much determination and hard work, Annie achieved a first-class honours degree in 2016.

During her time at QMU, the University’s Disability Service team quickly identified the learning challenges Annie was facing, having supported many other QMU students with dyslexia in the past.

The team carried out a needs assessment and developed an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) to support Annie’s learning difficulties.

QMU assigned an external tutor to Annie to offer her personalised and continued support throughout her QMU journey. Annie benefited from support each academic year, which included help developing her writing, referencing and time management skills.

The QMU Disability Services team also helped Annie secure funding from the Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) to buy a laptop with assistive software.

The positive impact of this continued support meant that Annie’s academic performance improved consistently each year. Her grades increased from Es and Ds in her first year to As and Bs in her final year. She graduated with a first-class honours degree from QMU in 2016.

Annie said: “The support I received from QMU’s Disability Service team has had one of the biggest and most positive influences on my experience at QMU. The help I’ve had has given me a huge confidence boost and has allowed me to reach my academic potential, as well as opening doors to new career opportunities.

“The Disability Service team always made time for me and always made sure I was offered personalised advice.

“My advice to other students with dyslexia at QMU is get out there and find out about the specialist support available to you on campus.”

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that affects around one in ten people. The British Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as “a combination of abilities and difficulties that affect the learning process in one or more of reading, spelling and writing”.