Case Seven: Lyndsey Smith

Graduation is an emotional day for most students but for Lyndsey Smith, who receives a Master’s in Counselling Studies from the University of Chester on Friday, March 16, it represents the culmination of a challenging educational journey.

Having been placed in a remedial class as a child, it took until she was in her thirties and seeking to change her career that anyone picked up on the fact that she was severely dyslexic.

The 46-year-old, from Runcorn, explained: “At school we were graded for effort and academic achievement, and while I always got the highest mark for effort, I got the lowest for achievement. I was placed in the remedial class and didn’t get any support – school was a struggle.”

Lyndsey Smith

She left school at 16 and trained as a hairdresser, spending 17 years in the business, including a time working on Caribbean cruise ships. After deciding on a career change she went into training to become a nursery nurse, which is when her condition was discovered and its diagnosis completely unlocked her potential.

During her new line of work Lyndsey developed an interest in counselling, having worked with some vulnerable children, and in 2005 enrolled at the University to study a Graduate Diploma in Counselling. And she hasn’t looked back since.

She said: “When I started my first course, I only scraped though my first assignment, but I then improved remarkably with encouragement and support from tutors. I really loved that course and got so much from that I decided to continue on to the Master’s.

“I had no idea whether I was good enough to make it but my tutors Dr Rita Mintz and Anne LeSurf believed in me, and although they challenged me, they really, really supported me.”

Through sheer hard work and determination Lyndsey, who also integrates art therapy into her counselling, has thrived at University and her tutors are especially proud of her achievements.

Dr Mintz, Programme Leader for Counselling Studies, described her as one of the most remarkable students she has taught.

She said; “Lyndsey has been one of the hardest working and most dedicated students I have ever encountered.  After having been written off by her teachers in primary school, she has fulfilled a lifelong dream – achieving an MA which she never thought in her wildest fantasies would be attainable.

“And her most remarkable journey continues – she has now gone on to take the Postgraduate Certificate in Counselling Supervision at Chester and is achieving distinctions in her assignments.”

Lyndsey added: “I just can’t believe that I’ve got a Master’s, I have to pinch myself. When I was growing up this could never have been an option for me. It’s like a dream come true.

“I feel like I came to the University as a tiny seed, and thanks to the support I got from my tutors and learning assistant, I’ve blossomed into a great big sunflower. It’s important for me to get the message across to other people who have been in my situation that if you’re determined, you can succeed.”