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Young carer overcomes difficult childhood to follow her dreams in Cornwall

Published: March 29, 2018

Falmouth Marine School

A young woman studying in Cornwall to become a marine scientist, wants to raise awareness of mental illness and inspire young carers to never give up on their dreams.

Emily Hardisty’s father suffered with severe psychosis, which included mixed personality disorder and schizophrenia, effecting not only him but also her and her younger sister.

The majority of Emily’s childhood was spent at home in Kent, helping to take care of her family. She was unable to attend school and attempted to study at home.

At aged thirteen Emily persuaded her father to let her and her sister attend school, but “at first I found this very hard considering I had never really used a computer before”.

After a few months Emily’s sister dropped out with severe autism, however, Emily continued with her education.

“I was determined to pass my GCSEs, so I continued on at school, while coming home to take care of my family and managed to scrape by passing my GCSEs,” she revealed.

Emily wanted to continue her studies in 6th form, however her father’s condition worsened, so she had to discontinue her studies.

“My father eventually reached the point where he was too dangerous to be around, leading to the point where we had to run away, after which my father was then sectioned under the Mental Health Act,” Emily, 23, continued.

“Even though at the time I never classed myself as a child carer, when I look back on it I realise I was. Throughout my childhood I was left feeling that I would not have the chance to ever pursue a career or follow my dreams of being a marine scientist.”

But in 2016 she discovered Falmouth Marine School, part of The Cornwall College Group, and decided to take the plunge to move from Kent to Cornwall to study Marine Biology & Ecology.

Emily impressed staff at the college so much that instead of continuing onto the second year she was given the opportunity to fast-track onto the FdSc Marine Science Degree course.

Head of Falmouth Marine School Justin Olosunde commented: “We pride ourselves in being an inclusive college. We know only too well that education can help to change lives. Emily didn’t have the grades for the degree course so we offered her an alternative. She showed such dedication and commitment to her studies that fast-tracking her through was an easy decision. Not only is she excelling in her Marine Science course, she is now Vice-Chair of the Student Union and won a student star award.”

Emily said when she looks back she “never would have thought I would be where I am today”.

“Studying with Falmouth Marine School has opened up a world of opportunities and future ambitions,” she revealed.

“For example, I am now a trained MMO (Marine Mammal Observer), PADI open water diver, and trainee small remote underwater vehicle (ROV) operator, all of which I gained through Falmouth Marine School.”

Emily is aiming to gain a PhD within the fields of marine science, while also focusing on conservation work towards the world’s oceans and its inhabitants.

“I am also highly interested in the study of deep-sea exploration and also the study of RNA and DNA, leading to my future ambitions of deep-sea exploration, species discovery and RNA world theory research,” she continued.

“I am sharing my story as I want to inspire young carers to never give up on their future endeavours, even though sometimes it may feel like you’ve been set back it doesn’t mean your future goals cannot be achieved.”

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