AAA RNC student awarded £3,000 scholarship at Cardiff University
On A Level results day it was announced that a record 424,000 students have been accepted into UK universities and colleges. One of those students celebrating is 19 year old Kieran Parnell; the former RNC (Royal National College for the Blind) student has been offered a place at his first choice university to study BSc Computer Science. As well as this, Kieran has also been awarded a prestigious £3,000 Cardiff University scholarship after achieving an A grade in A Level Sociology along with a Double Distinction* in BTEC IT.
But the journey has not been easy for Kieran, from Newport in Wales. Due to a rare accident at birth Kieran was born blind in his right eye then, at the age of 16, the sight began deteriorating in his left eye and he was diagnosed with an inherited eye condition known as Stargardt Disease. His parents were unaware that they were carriers of the rare condition and there was no history of visual impairment in his family. Kieran explains why he chose to attend a specialist college “I went to RNC because I wanted to learn how to look after my eye condition if it worsened.”
Kieran is the first person in his family to go to university and jokes “My mum’s shocked I even got to A Levels, let alone the fact that I’m going to uni. She didn’t really say much when I told her I got a scholarship at Cardiff uni; she just cried!” When he first came to RNC Kieran admits that it was never his aim to move into Higher Education. “I messed around a lot in high school and didn’t really care about education. I got a few GCSEs but I didn’t pass English.
Kieran was able to retake GCSE English alongside A Level Sociology and BTEC IT, he says “RNC was a much more serious environment than I was used to, a lot of the other A Level students were applying to uni and for the first time I considered that it was a possibility for me; I had something I could focus on and work towards.” Kieran’s crucial piece of advice to anyone starting at RNC is “When you start coursework and essays you might get bad grades to begin with and it can dishearten you in the beginning but you can’t let that get you down. When I first started Sociology I was getting Ds and Cs but I wanted to work hard and I wanted to get better. My writing skills have improved so much, I compared the first and last essay I wrote at RNC and the difference in quality is so clear over just two years. A lot of people think that IT is very practical but the BTEC course is very coursework-heavy and I was writing up to 4,000 words per assignment because I wanted to ensure that I got a distinction!”
RNC’s Sociology Teacher Ali Straker commented “I am so proud of Kieran; he is a clear example for other students to demonstrate that hard work and dedication can get you a long way. Kieran thoroughly deserves this and the scholarship shows the tremendous distance he has travelled. Coming to RNC without a GCSE in English and leaving with an A grade in A Level Sociology shows what can be achieved with a combination of determination, hard work and of course ability.”
Alongside his academic studies Kieran undertook a weekly work placement in the RNC technical support department and he says “Work experience was invaluable, studying IT you learn about the theory but it doesn’t prepare you for when things go wrong. During my placement I was able to take computers apart to see what was wrong with them; I learned a lot about troubleshooting and problem solving.”
With a month to go before Kieran starts university he states “I dread to imagine what I would be doing now if I didn’t go to RNC” and looking to the future Kieran says that he definitely wants a career in computing “I would love to work in computer processing architecture. I find it amazing how computers work and how efficient they are. In the future, we will rely more and more on technology so there will always be a need for the job and it’s something that I enjoy.”
Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC