As part of our graduation ceremonies at the end of 2022, we caught up with a number of our incredible award-winning students, reflecting some of Arden University’s high achievers.

One of those is Toddles. Toddles, a recent healthcare management graduate, has been in the UK for 15 years now, having previously spent seven years working as a nurse in Jamaica. 

Reflecting her hard-work and dedication to her studies, Toddles won Arden’s Katie Aubrey award, named in memory of a long-standing member of Arden staff who passed suddenly. The award is presented to a student who has overcome personal challenges while achieving success at Arden.

On a day of celebration, Toddles spoke to us about what she enjoyed about her time with Arden, the challenges she overcame, and the support she received. Read more below. 

Hi Toddles, congratulations on graduating! What did you study?

I studied Healthcare Management. I’m a nurse by profession, so I wanted to upgrade myself by doing some sort of Leadership/ Management course. I was referred to Arden by another student, so I read about it, and it seemed to be what I want. But when I got there, it initially seemed it was almost the same as nursing. But I thought 'Okay, let's just try it and see what it is.' 

In the end, I was amazed to see all the added topics and subjects though, and that that has helped me massively. I'd never studied in this country (I studied as a nurse in Jamaica), so learning to do researching and then presenting it was totally different to what I'd done before. 

How has your career changed since studying?

Getting into the academic area of nursing management was another way of showing me how I could be more accepted. I am now in a leadership position and the management has led me to that. Since graduating, I've got a sister position in my hospital and I was able to say that I have just graduated, I've just got a first-class honours. They were amazed. They loved it.

You've been in the UK for a while now, what are some of the differences that you noticed in the in the healthcare systems?

It's more organised here I think there's more responsibility. As a nurse here, you have added responsibility. Not only in that you have leadership and supervisory positions you have to take in to consideration whether you’re doing anything, or delegating duties. You need something like management to help you make sure you don't step in the wrong direction. 

What were the three most important things for you when choosing a university?

Something that I would enjoy. Something that I know would be achievable. And to be honest, at the end of my course, something that means I would be marketable to get a job that means I will be well paid, so I can look out for my kids and my family, and get satisfaction from it.

What was it about Arden that convinced you that you were doing the right thing?

When I came to Arden there were certain tutors which convinced me that this is the right way to do things. When the topics were presented, I realised I could achieve what I wanted to. 

You've graduated with a first-class degree which is amazing. How did that feel as you're going along? 

I’d started at University somewhere else and they weren't as supportive but when I started at Arden after the first three or four lessons a tutor said “Toddles, you're doing well, but I think there's something that is wrong.”

They advised me to go to a psychologist, and they found out I was dyslexic. It was amazing how they picked that up without me even realising. It is so supportive of Arden that they have tutors that can recognise when a student is doing well but notice there's still more potential. 

They even gave me some support through the hardship fund, to do the psychologist report, and I put in the rest, but they helped me so much. They then helped me to get some additional things put into place to assist me, and I got additional tutoring support. 

Those are the things that helped me. I didn't do it alone. If it wasn't for the support at Arden I could not have achieved what I've achieved. 

Toddles and her sons

How have you found combining studying with your life outside university?

I was really part-time with my nursing. With my family, my son Nathan is autistic. He's 10. And my other son Michael is blind. And I have my own, stuff to manage as well because I'm diabetic and hypertensive. So, I have to adjust things because of my children, because of my own health issues, and still work hard to achieve. 

I've just got this award to say that I have achieved while overcoming challenges and I've overcome a lot of challenges while I was there. I lost my sister. I've lost numerous family members that are close to me. My brother-in-law and my sister-in-law died on the same day. I knew though, that if I stopped, I would not achieve. I pushed myself and pushed myself, and my family was very supportive. My colleagues at work were also supportive. They all just helped me so much to achieve.

Today is your graduation day, how does it feel to be here after all the hard work?

Awesome. When I got this award, I just couldn't believe it. I felt like a superstar. I wish my mom was there, but my son said I was a superstar and a superwoman.

What’s the next goal for you?

So, the end goal is to do public health. First, I’m going to do a Master’s in public health nursing, which I've applied for. 

So, your story is really inspirational, and you've achieved so much and overcome so much. What would you say to anyone that is possibly struggling a little bit themselves? They might be saying I don't think university is for me because I've got a lot going on. But what would you say to them?

I'm a mature student. The support is there. You just need to take the first step. Taking the first step is the hardest. I remember when I was younger, my mom used to say to me “You’re at the path. It’s just for you to start. Because once you start, the journey will end.” 

And in getting towards the ending, you will get bumps, you will get curves, you will get stick, you will get prick, but if you get support, which I did, and you're persistent, and you have this resilience. You can make it just keep on being persistent, and resilient. There's nothing you cannot do. There is no mountain you can’t climb. 

As the Bible says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I believe that I need so doing I believe in myself. And because I believe in myself, I will say to anyone believe in yourself.

Take a step, it will lead you somewhere! 

To find out how a degree from Arden University could help you achieve what you were born to do, visit our course pages today