A Kirklees College student who has suffered serious illnesses and was helped through her childhood by her puppy has won a university bursary to study veterinary skills.

Megan Koolaji, a Level 3 Animal Management student at Kirklees College’s Taylor Hill Animal Centre in Huddersfield, has chronic lung disease.

The bursary means Megan has been able to apply to study Veterinary Science at the University of Central Lancashire or Veterinary Nursing at Askham Bryan College in York. She will be the first person to go to university in her family.

When she was 14 Megan underwent several major surgeries that left her in a week-long coma with severe long-term health issues, including seizures.

Megan had to shave her hair before her operations and this, alongside the physical and psychological trauma of her health problems, meant she couldn’t attend school and was eventually held back a year. 

Faced with this social anxiety and ill health, secondary school was tough for Megan but it was her new puppy, Ruby, who helped get her through those challenging years and also ignited a love for animals.

When it came to deciding what she was going to do after school Megan was immediately drawn to Kirklees College’s Animal Management course. She knew she wanted to care for animals the way she had been cared for when she was in pain. 

Megan said: “Coming to Kirklees College has helped me find myself. I’ve made really great friends and grown in confidence which has made me stronger. I wouldn’t be as motivated and dedicated as I am if I hadn’t been through what I’ve been through and my journey has taught me that nothing is handed to you on a plate, but if you work hard then good things can happen.”

Megan is now in the final year of her two-year course and had been considering university as her next step when the Student Experience team at college discovered a grant offer for students from poorer backgrounds who wanted to attend university. The scholarship, which offers £4,000 every year for three years of study, is provided by the Mirfield Educational Charity.

Jax Lovelock, student community development officer at Kirklees College, asked tutors if they had any students who may benefit from the scholarship and Animal Care tutor Rebecca Easterbrook instantly nominated Megan.

When the Mirfield Educational Charity met to discuss applications for the bursary Megan stood out as a worthy candidate.

Jax said: “This was an opportunity we simply couldn’t miss. It’s life-changing and because it can only be applied for through college it was a huge team effort

“Megan is an inspirational young person and I’ve no doubt her story will inspire others to persevere in the face of extreme difficulties. The legacy of this will continue for years to come and she can be extremely proud of that, as we are of her.”

Kirklees College has more than 10,000 students across Kirklees and has specialist vocational centres, including an Engineering Centre, Process Manufacturing Centre, Taylor Hill Centre Animal Centre, Brunel Construction Centre in Huddersfield and Pioneer Higher Skills Centre in Dewsbury.

Written by ANDY HIRST who runs his own Yorkshire freelance journalism agency AH! PR (https://ah-pr.com/) specialising in press releases, blogging, website content and copywriting.