A Skelmersdale student who returned to study after being inspired by her own experience with counselling is today graduating from Edge Hill University and has been awarded a prestigious Chancellor’s Scholarship.

Carla Stanley left school with no qualifications, but after having two children returned to college and went on to work in a care setting where she had the chance to study for NVQs.

With a newly found thirst for knowledge, Carla enrolled in a Psychology degree at The Open University and at the same time took part in some personal counselling.

It was during those sessions that she realised her vocation, and joined the first cohort of the Counselling and Psychotherapy degree programme at Edge Hill University to qualify to become a counsellor herself. But it was while studying, staff at Edge Hill identified that Carla had dyslexia.

Despite overcoming a number of challenges, she received the first 100 per cent mark on the programme and her dissertation scored 80 per cent.

As Carla was a carer for her grandparents – her grandmother was deaf and unable to speak and her grandfather was also deaf – she took the experiences and the stigma that she and her family had experienced as the basis of research for her dissertation. She discovered that deaf people see themselves as part of a unique culture and if they need access to counselling, they want it to be with a deaf counsellor.

Carla has also made a difference outside of University with volunteer counselling work, which includes working with children whose parents are terminally ill, and also those affected by divorce, domestic violence, separation and loss.

Carla said: “The support I have received at Edge Hill has been fantastic, and not just from my tutors but everyone at the Faculty of Health and Social Care.

“It’s meant so much that I’ve decided to apply for a Masters degree in research to study the provision of counselling for the deaf, and the checks and measures to do with that, so I’m looking forward to continuing my research at Edge Hill University.”

The Chancellor’s Scholarship celebrates students who help to raise the profile of Edge Hill in a positive way through their exceptional contribution to the University.

Senior lecturer Irene Dudley-Swarbrick nominated Carla for the award.

She said: “To have personal struggles, then having a diagnosis of dyslexia is always emotional, but Carla has done so well. She is very focussed, and very organised and has really worked hard to make the best of the resources available.

I’m very proud of what she has achieved, and not only was she the first of the cohort to achieve a 100 per cent mark, she was the first of my career. This cohort have really been an outstanding group of students.”

Carla added: “I was very surprised to learn I’d won a scholarship, but it means a lot that the tutors have recognised the journey I have been on, and especially by someone as great as Irene.

Find out more about studying for a degree in counselling and psychotherapy here.