A STUDENT from Waterlooville has overcome adversity to scoop a prestigious award for educational achievement.
Jay Kelly, 21, is to receive the award from the Prince’s Trust when he collects the accolade for Ascential Educational Achiever.
The accolade comes at the end of a long journey for Jay which has seen him overcome mental health issues and difficulties at home after coming out as transgender.
‘My mental health started to deteriorate from the age of 12. When I was 14 I felt different to other girls my age and began to question my gender. I made the difficult decision to come out as transgender, which my family found difficult to accept as I began to live as a man,’ explained Jay.
It was during this period that Jay began to self-harm and his mental health deteriorated to the point where he was admitted to hospital for four months.
‘Being transgender wasn’t the sole reason for my mental health problems but it was certainly part of it. It really affected my GCSE results as I could’t go to school and then later on I didn’t want to turn up to college. I was so anxious I didn’t want to leave the house,’ added Jay.
With the help of the Prince’s Trust, Jay slowly began to turn his life around after attending the charity’s Fairbridge Programme.
‘I knew I would have to face my fears to take part. I was worried about meeting new people and what they might think of me,’ explained Jay.
The programme gives participants the opportunity to take part in a range of activities designed to promote self-confidence, communication and team work.
‘On the first day of the course we went climbing in which I really had to face and conquer my fear of heights. The course constantly kept me motivated and challenged me to achieve things I didn’t think I could,’ said Jay.
This achievement in the face of adversity is now reflected in Jay’s own life as he has overcome his problems and is now studying at the University of West London.
‘I am now on a path I never dreamed I’d be on. I no longer self-harm, my relationships with my family have improved and I have moved to London to study Mental Health Nursing. Obviously the big reason I have chosen to go down this route is to use my own experience to hopefully help others,’ explained Jay.
It is not just educationally where Jay feels he has progressed.
‘If someone had said to me a few years ago I would be where I am now I would’t have believed it. At one point I found even the thought of using public transport terrifying. I really didn’t think I would get to the point of being a student in London and coping with the pressure of moving away,’ he added.
Jay will be presented with the award on Tuesday in a ceremony at the British Museum.
He said: ‘I am really pleased to receive the award. I now feel content with life and am enjoying university. I am really excited for what’s next. I credit the people at the Prince’s Trust with getting me this far.’