From education to employment

Winning award is best Christmas present for “worthless” student nurse

A student nurse who, despite a difficult childhood, was determined to gain an education has been selected as the winner of an award for her “Outstanding Commitment to Study” (@BarkingCollege).

Abigail Egbe, 31, who is originally from Nigeria and lives in Ilford, was withheld from accessing education as a child. Her experience gave her a passion to seek opportunities to help others and devote herself to making an impact in her community. With that in mind, she did an Access to Nursing, Midwifery and Health Studies course at Barking & Dagenham College. Abigail is now fulfilling her ambition to gain a degree and is at City University where she is studying child nursing.

 She recently found out that she’s been awarded the Michael Sargent Bursary Award for Outstanding Commitment to Study. Abigail explains:

“When I got the email from my tutor to say that I have been selected as the winner of the award, I was astonished! This is the first time I have ever been recognised academically. For many years I was told that I was ‘worthless, incompetent and hopeless’ by people that should have cared for me; what gave me a sense of purpose and strength to strive for a better life was the hope of one day gaining an education.

“So winning this award means a lot to me, because it is a testament to the fact that hard work pays off. I am immensely grateful for this recognition. It is encouraging, and it fuels my passion to work even harder and strive higher.”


The bursary is worth £500 and Abigail isn’t sure yet how she will spend it, although she says: “I would like to buy a souvenir, something of sentimental value, that would serve as a reminder to me of my journey so far and my hard work. I would also like to go out with my friends to have a celebratory meal.”

Abigail is a mature student and is keen to encourage others to re-enter education too, she says: “I hope people would be inspired by my story, especially those that may think that it is too late for them to gain an education, because it is never too late.

“The access course provided me with the perfect platform to improve my career opportunities and a stepping stone to achieving my personal goal of becoming a child nurse. It also equipped me with the necessary skills, knowledge and confidence I needed which has better prepared me for starting university this year especially after having missed out on a lot of education.”

In addition to her childhood challenges, Abigail had a difficult time during the pandemic, not least that she was living in busy, noisy temporary accommodation in a hostel whilst studying. Nevertheless, tenacious Abigail achieved top grades in her college course.  Abigail explains:

“It was particularly difficult because the hostel was a shared accommodation with many children who were also forced to learn from home. It was extremely hard for me to stay focused on my Zoom lessons, complete assignments and exams as a result of the noise and many distractions around. Despite that, this did not stop me from being motivated and working hard to constantly push myself to ensure that I was meeting my assignment deadlines and studying for my exams. Most times, I would stay up throughout the night to re-watch the recorded lessons, work on my assignments and revise for my exams as this was the only time I had where there was no noise or distractions around.”

Abigail has found both the UK and her college very supportive and welcoming, she continues:

What I came to appreciate about this country is the opportunity provided for everyone to learn, regardless of their level of education or qualifications. It does not matter what your age, race or gender is, there is equal opportunity for all.

“A lot of people have made a different impact in my life that has contributed to my success story today, especially in the past five years. The teachers at Barking & Dagenham College have left a positive imprint in my life. Although many were not aware of my personal struggles, the support and acceptance into the learning environment gave me a sense of worth and direction. My teachers were exceeding helpful, dedicated, understanding, encouraging and supportive. Without their support, I could not have achieved an exceptional result.

“I am grateful to all my teachers; this achievement would not have been possible without them. I would like to use this opportunity to say a massive thank you to all my teachers and everyone at the Michael Sargent Bursary Award for this wonderful recognition.”

Abigail is thoroughly enjoying the learning experience at university is looking forward to qualifying as a children’s’ nurse. As winner of the award, she will also be put through to the National Keith Fletcher Prize.

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