Maisy completed her studies at RNC in 2017.
Hello I’m Maisy and I’m a first year student at RNC. I’m studying GCSEs in Psychology, Health and Social Care and Maths. As well as this I am studying BTEC Level 1 Braille and having regular Independent Living Skills and Mobility lessons.
Outside of lessons I am the Vice Chair of the Student Representative Group, Student Representative for the College Equality and Diversity Group and the RNC representative for the Right Not a Fight campaign.
My medical condition
I was born with a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis, type 1, and my condition means that tumours can grow on my nervous system.
During a routine appointment in 2012, the optician noticed that the sight in my left eye had significantly deteriorated; I was immediately referred for an MRI scan at the hospital. This showed that I had developed a tumour on my optic nerve which caused me to lose the majority of my sight. Everything happened so quickly, it was literally a week and a half after my diagnosis that I started chemotherapy in November 2012. The chemo lasted nearly two years and I had my last session in July 2014, just a couple of months before I started at RNC. It’s unknown about the future of my sight because there is always pressure on my optic nerve.
I started wearing glasses when I was 9 or 10 years old. Thinking back, the tumour had probably started affecting my optic nerves from then but it wasn’t diagnosed; people just thought I had a lazy eye.
Thinking back I had always known that my sight wasn’t good but about a year before the diagnosis my vision really was dire. I always read with a large font size and in bold. If I sat at the back of the class I couldn’t read green writing on the whiteboard, and had to squint if the pen was running out. I didn’t really think anything of it; I never thought that it was something I had to do anything about. Everyone just told me to wear my glasses but they weren’t doing anything
Moving from mainstream to specialist education
I grew up in Manchester and moved to Looe, a small town in Cornwall, when I started Year 9. It was a mainstream school, I’ve always been in mainstream school so I was really apprehensive to come to RNC; a specialist college. I’d visited another specialist college a few weeks before coming to RNC and straight away I knew I didn’t belong there. Before my first tour of RNC I was expecting it to be a special needs school for those with learning and physical disabilities.
This may sound really strange but I’d never really seen disability before as I’d always grown up in a mainstream environment. In fact I’d never really even used the term ‘mainstream’ before I started looking into specialist education and now it is such a common term to distinguish between the two which I use often. After my diagnosis I still didn’t see myself as disabled.
My biggest worry before coming to RNC
This may sound like a small thing but I am really fussy with food; I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t like to eat vegetables! Before coming to RNC I was worried that I wouldn’t like any of the food served here but I was able to submit a menu of my requirements for lunch and dinner in the bistro. I don’t always eat in the bistro; every student has access to a shared kitchen in their halls.
I live in Campbell Hall and there are four people on my corridor, in the kitchen there are fridges and cupboards where you have your own shelves and also communal areas. There are a couple of shops close by where you can buy food to take back to cook. I don’t do this all the time but it’s always nice to have the option. The College also provides breakfast food for us in the kitchen so there is always milk, bread, cereal, butter and jam etc.
Getting to grips with technology at RNC
I used to love writing, buying new pens and notebooks. I do miss writing; I can still do it through a CCTV – a video magnifier which enlarges text. But I only use the CCTV if I’m in the Student Hub so it’s not the same. If I do any coursework for College it’s always using Word on my laptop.
When I came to RNC I didn’t really have a working medium, it’s pointless trying to zoom into text as I read such large print so I have been learning to use JAWS – a screen reader. At first it’s very stressful to use because it’s all about shortcuts on the keyboard and having to remember them all when all I want to do is just grab the mouse! It’s taken me about five weeks to learn how to touch type, which Is proving to be very useful.
My life at RNC
I have a great group of friends here, there are definitely people who I can have a laugh with, chilled conversation, silly chats and banter. But there are also people who I can have serious talks with; while we haven’t necessary gone through exactly the same thing it’s a lot easier for us to understand each other than with my friends at mainstream.
My old school was never open to differences – the best thing about RNC is that I am somewhere which is open and accepting and really feel like I can be myself here without people judging me.