Paige Scales has just begun a veterinary nursing degree after completing her BTEC extended diploma at Canterbury College.

Paige Scales, 24, from Ramsgate, successfully completed her BTEC Extended Diploma in Animal Management at Canterbury College earlier this year.

Although she was always keen to study animal management, she originally chose a different career path. She explains, “When I did my GCSEs, I failed maths and English, which was a bit of a barrier. I wanted to do an Animal Management course, but my parents didn’t work and couldn’t afford for me to travel to Canterbury. It was hard for them financially, so I ended up going to a local college to study childcare.”

Paige achieved her English GCSE alongside her childcare qualification and completed an apprenticeship working with children while resitting her maths GCSE.

She said, “I worked in a nursery for around four years. Then I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to live life with no regrets! That’s when I chose to study an animal management course. I loved it. When I first went to college, although I didn’t really know about animals at all, I can honestly say I have learnt so much. I feel quite proud of what I have achieved.”

She adds, “I didn’t see myself succeeding from the start. Learning that the tutors believed in me 100% gave me that oomph to achieve higher. It really makes a difference when they show they care. With my exams, even if I thought I’d done badly, they’d say ‘If you don’t try you fail’. That’s stuck with me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support and without them believing in me. If I had any problems, I knew I could always talk to someone. It was good for me knowing there was always someone there.”

Paige was able to explore her options for university and next steps for studying with the help of the college’s UniConnect officer, Lisa.

She said, “Presentations are a big part of university life, so Lisa put things in place to help with this and build our confidence. We also had mini-interviews, and my heart was pounding, but I actually did really well, which helped with overcoming fear.

“We also took part in a project with Big Cat Sanctuary, which was great for working as a team and practising our presentation skills. University lecturers also talked to us about university and uni life and what to expect. Towards the end of the first year, I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but with all the workshops and support in the second year, I decided I definitely could!”

Paige completed her course, gaining a final grade of D* D* D*. She has now started her veterinary nursing course at Hartpury University in Gloucester.

She said, “If you’d asked me at the start of the course what I’d be doing, I’d have had no idea. Now, I know I want to be working as a veterinary nurse in a veterinary practice specialising in exotic animals. I never would have thought that someone like me would have made it into university.

“It just goes to show that if you have someone who believes in you, you can do anything. They believed in me and also taught me to believe in myself, which does make a difference.”

Lucy King

20 Sep 2023

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