Teigan Jones was unsure what the future would hold after failing her GCSEs and being told college was not an option for her.
Seven years later she has completed a series of Animal Care and Animal Management programmes and is now researching the habitats of a protected amphibian species on the North Wales coast, as she works toward a career in conservation.
The 23 year-old, from Gronant, was at a crossroads when she decided to apply for an entry-level diploma at Cambria’s Northop site.
But after successfully navigating the course, Teigan continued to improve, attaining numerous qualifications – including a Higher National Diploma (HND) – and will graduate from University later this year on completing a one-year top-up degree.
“I had enjoyed Animal Care at school, and that was really the only thing I even considered on leaving,” she said.
“I took a chance and applied to Coleg Cambria, fully expecting not to get in; when I did, I was ecstatic, and from that point my confidence grew thanks to the amazing lecturers and staff at Northop.”
For her dissertation, Teigan – who cites partner Jonathan and her family as a major reason for the turnaround – is currently studying the behaviours and habitats of the Natterjack toad, a declining species found in sand dunes along the coast near Talacre and Prestatyn.
“It has been fascinating and means a lot to me personally as their habitats are right on my doorstep,” she said.
“It is an interesting project as they are under threat, which aligns with my ambition to work with animals and in conservation, to be hands-on in trying to make a difference to the environment.”
Teigan, who has been working on the frontline at a supermarket during the pandemic, added: “Without the staff at Northop none of this would have been possible, the understanding and encouragement they gave me was amazing.
“There was a six-month period where I lost my voice and struggled to speak, and they were so patient and supportive, helping me to improve and believe in myself.
“Studying online in lockdown has not been easy for me and other students, but we had each other.
“Joining Coleg Cambria Northop was one of the best choices I ever made, and I’ll never forget it.”
Sadie Thackaberry, Programme Leader for the HND in Animal Management at Cambria, congratulated Teigan on the perseverance and passion she has shown since joining the college.
“To hear that we have been instrumental in getting Teigan to this point is heartening, but really it is down to her determination to prove she could do it,” she said.
“She has grown and grown, and we are sure there is a long and successful career in conservation ahead of her – good luck, Teigan. We are proud of you!”