From education to employment

Jewel & Esk Student overcomes disabilities to win Principal’s Prize

Jewel & Esk College has awarded a student, who battled ill health and disability to gain an SVQ2 in Professional Cookery, the College’s prestigious Principal’s Prize in recognition of his achievements.

Scott McNealis suffered from Childhood Encephalitis, which left him permanently disabled and susceptible to bouts of ill health throughout his time on the course. His obvious courage and tremendous dedication was recognised at Jewel & Esk College’s recent graduation ceremony.

Ron McGilp, Learning Manager, said "There is no one more deserving of this award than Scott. Not only has he overcome great difficulties to succeed in his courses, but he has done so with a smile on his face and with a spirit of determination and cheerfulness. I am thrilled for him and so are all the staff in the department."

Mr McNealis arrived at the college in 2005 to work his way through its Skillpower course, and was soon accepted onto a Foundation in Professional Cookery. During this time, a brain shunt, inserted to relieve pressure caused by previous illnesses, became blocked and meant he was frequently admitted to hospital for treatment and surgery.

After achieving the Foundation in Professional Cookery Award, he progressed onto the SVQ2 Professional Cookery course in 2007. Similarly, his continued ill health and hospital admissions, including major brain surgery, didn’t stop him from proving incredible drive and determination. He attended college as often as he was able, and was committed to catching up on work he missed whilst hospitalised.

His eyesight also began to fail towards the end of the academic year, which posed unique challenges and meant he was admitted to hospital yet again. Doctors were later able to save one eye after surgical treatments, although at one point it was feared he could lose his eyesight permanently.

Despite the many obstacles he faced, Mr McNealis worked consistently hard, and with help from lecturing and Learning Support staff he successfully completed the SVQ2 course.

Speaking of his triumph, Mr McNealis said "I was really surprised when they rang me to say that I had won this. It’s great. I had a great time at college and to win this prize just tops it off."

Pictured: Scott McNealis and family

Related Articles