discovery at UCA
This Dyslexia Awareness Week, Becca Marsh shares the story of how discovering her dyslexia during her degree opened doors to a surprising career path.
05 Oct 2023
Dyslexia is one of the most common learning differences there is, affecting around one in ten of us. But even after finishing school, many of us still have no idea we have it.
So what happens if you discover your dyslexia as an adult? Fine Art graduate Becca Marsh found out in her second year at UCA – and thanks to the support she got throughout the second half of her degree, she’s now forging a career as a photographer and writer.
We asked Becca if she would be happy to share her story.
“I always knew something wasn’t quite right, as I truly disliked writing," she says. "It was a chore, and so was reading. But I was always a positive and quiet student that just got on with my work, and I went through school and college without a diagnosis.
“It wasn’t until I was in my second year at UCA, when one of my lecturers failed me on an essay and pulled me aside to talk about it. I was shocked about failing as, although I was never an A-grade student, all my life I had achieved well. But I was also relieved that, finally, someone had noticed an issue and taken the time to address it. My lecturer suggested I get tested for dyslexia, so the next day I contacted learning support and had a test booked.
“My results showed I was severely dyslexic, but with a high IQ , suggesting that this was why I still performed at a high level, but that I had the potential to do better.
“With a diagnosis, I was able to get a learning disability grant that covered a one-to-one tutor for one session a week - supporting me with my essays and, eventually, my dissertation. I had access to other benefits, such as extended deadlines, plus a budget for additional materials and gadgets to help me work.
“I had always struggled with writing and reading tasks, but I just thought that was normal and that everyone else around me must also feel the same, so I never spoke up about it. I found it hard to get into books and to motivate myself to read. Every time I attempted it, my mind wandered off elsewhere and the words on the page would become fuzzy and blend together. When I wrote, I found myself going round in circles, almost repeating the same thing, but just using different words and not reaching any conclusions.
“My experience at UCA changed my life and has had a huge impact on my career. The help I received gave me the ability to identify problems within my work, as well as noticing patterns in the circumstances where I made mistakes. These were the tools I needed to correct the problems within my own work. My one-to-one tutor invested their time in teaching me how to improve my work so that I could achieve more. And as a result, I got a first for my dissertation!
“Since leaving UCA, I have drifted into journalism and travel as my subject areas, and I am now a freelance writer in these industries. I would never have dreamed of becoming a writer, and I still laugh with my family now about the irony of it, but these days I have a real passion for it.
“If you are struggling with your work, in particular with writing, then I strongly suggest getting tested for dyslexia. Although the test requires a bit of an investment, the rewards outweigh the initial cost.
"I would also recommend speaking with your tutors and asking if they have noticed any patterns in your work; I was completely oblivious to mine before, but they seem so obvious now I have been taught to spot the signs.
“Discovering my dyslexia has impacted my life in such a positive way, and shaped my career into something I never thought was achievable.”
You can find out more about what help is available to you if you have dyslexia, or need any other support with your learning, on our Disabilities and Specific Learning Differences page.