The 18 year-old was planning to study A Levels when her father Myles passed away aged just 42, leaving Amber-Leigh unsure what the future would bring.
Battling anxiety and mental health issues, with the support of mum Kim she decided to apply to study for a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Animal Management at Coleg Cambria Llysfasi, near Ruthin.
Taking a bus from her Old Colwyn home every day – having enrolled during the pandemic and after months learning online – she is on course to achieve a Distinction* and will attend the new Harper and Keele Veterinary School from September.
Thanking lecturer Alex Morgan and staff at Llysfasi for their help, the former Ysgol Bryn Elian pupil is excited to begin the next chapter of her story.
“I’ve been through a lot these past few years, but I was never going to give up, I can’t imagine not going on to be a vet and making my Dad proud,” said Amber-Leigh.
“He was always telling me to work hard and reach my goals, I had his voice in my head spurring me on and am so happy that I’m on my way to making those dreams come true.
“It was a devastating time for us, my plans changed, and I decided to go to Cambria which has turned out to be a great decision because I absolutely loved the course and they helped me through everything.
“As a pathway from school to higher education I would recommend it to anyone because of the experience you get handling animals and the independence that prepares you for university life.
“After everything that’s happened, I never thought I would get here but I have and am so looking forward to the future.”
Growing up in a household full of pets gave Amber-Leigh a head-start in caring for creatures of all shapes and sizes, from dogs and cats to guinea pigs, hamsters, and rodents.
“I knew from a very young age I wanted to work with animals,” she said.
“When I was little and started to understand they needed to go to the ‘doctors’ I became determined that’s what I would do one day, I wanted to help them if they were sick or injured.
“To now be in the position of completing my studies at Coleg Cambria – especially given the challenges of the Coronavirus and remote learning– and preparing to begin a degree in Veterinary Medicine and Surgery is still a huge shock, but I’m absolutely delighted.
“Thanks again to all of the team at Llysfasi and especially my amazing mum and family – I could not have done it without you.”
Alex congratulated Amber-Leigh on her university place and said her positivity and determination are an example to others.
“She has worked so hard and is such an inspiration, we wish her every success and the best of luck at university,” she added.
“We have no doubt she will go on to have a successful career as a veterinary surgeon.”
For more on the wide range of land-based courses and qualifications available at Coleg Cambria Llysfasi, visit the website: www.cambria.ac.uk.