Bradley Cory (Brad) is a PhD student at the University of Greenwich. At 16, Brad experienced a brain haemorrhage and stroke, resulting in a life-long disability.
Here, Brad shares his journey from applying to university through to studying for a PhD, the support he received, and lessons learned along the way.
“I didn’t always want to go to university; before my stroke, I wanted to be a commercial pilot. I knew I wouldn’t be able to pursue that anymore, but I fell in love with the idea of human biology and how you can help people recover from injury. I searched the different options and courses, and pursuing research seemed like the way for me to make the greatest impact, so university was the way forward.
I did my research and the University of Greenwich ticked all the boxes for me. They have fantastic support services, it’s relatively local to my family, the campus is beautiful, and they offered a foundation year. That year gave me additional qualifications and skills that hugely benefited my degree.
Before I’d started my course the university contacted me because I’d ticked the box on my application form stating that I am disabled. They invited me in for a consultation before my start date. This helped us put together a plan for me before I even started my studies. I didn’t have a diagnosis for dyslexia and they recommended this so that I could apply for Disabled Students Allowance (DSA). During freshers week I bumped into Melanie Thorley, STAART Manager, and I’ve been part of STAART ever since.
Before starting at uni, my biggest fear was being alone. I know how to meet people and have a conversation, but in the back of my mind, I was worried about trying to build friendships with people who have interests that I can’t engage with, such as sports. My main concerns were: would I meet people, and would they be nice? And I did, I met some great people. There’s a real sense of community with STAART, we have a great time together.
I’ve received various types of support that have helped my studies. Counselling has been hugely beneficial, and I’ve also received cognitive behaviour therapy. Greenwich has an inclusion plan and it details to lecturers and other staff members what support and requirements are needed. I also got a support worker for exams and lectures, and reading and dictation software was also provided. On my PhD, I have a scientific support helper who comes to the lab with me.
STAART has been instrumental in a lot of this support. If you’re in a community that supports you, you really can’t go wrong. This has enabled me to be the best version of myself and to understand exactly what I need.
My advice to others: It’s going to be hard. It’s not easy, you’re going to have to fight for things but at the end of it, that last exam or when you hand in your dissertation, it’s so worth it. As disabled people, we tend to find each other. There’s a community there waiting for you. It’s cheesy, but I’d say to follow your dream!”