A student who overcame debilitating anxiety, lack of money and PTSD has obtained a first class honours degree and top award from the University of Cumbria.
Millie Lepic served with the RAF in Iraq but underwent treatment at the military medical rehabilitation centre at Hedley Court and was subsequently discharged. So inspired was she by those who helped her that Millie decided she wanted to learn how to help others who have also experienced the trauma she had.
Ten years on, with support and encouragement from family, friends and the university, she's just achieved her dream; a first class degree and a job with a charity who help former service personnel.
But she almost didn't get here.
“After coming back from Iraq in 2006 I was in a bit of a bad way physically and mentally but the staff at Hedley lit a fire in me so when I knew I was going to be medically discharged I put a plan in place and went about it with full determination and focus,” Millie said.
On paper she didn’t have the required number of points to qualify to take up the rehabilitation course at the University of Cumbria. So the university looked at an alternative way of assessing her ability to join.
“She started the course as a mature student with no A-levels to speak of, but from coming out of 12 ½ years within the Royal Air Force I created an alternate access pathway to enable her to join the course,” Dr Katie Small, senior lecturer in sport rehabilitation, said.
And the decision to offer her a place soon proved a wise one.
“Whilst at university she became student representative for the cohort as well as the British Association of Sport Rehabilitators and Trainers (BASRaT) student liaison representative,” Dr Small said. ”She also supported herself whilst on the course with part-time reception work at the university gymnasium, self-employment as a fitness instructor and massage therapist. She excelled academically and soared through the number of placement hours she was expected to fulfill, completing over 500 – 100 more than the number required to qualify for BASRaT membership eligibility.”
Her hard work and dedication paid off and this week she graduated at Carlisle Cathedral with a first class honours degree and also emerged as the highest graded student from her cohort, all accomplished whilst suffering often crippling anxiety and PTSD.
One month after leaving university she now has her dream job working among military veterans as a physical development health and wellbeing coach with Help for Heroes at the Phoenix House Recovery Centre, Catterick.
“We’ve just come back from an iron man weekend helping military veterans achieve their potential – to be able to say I’m part of a team that does that it is superb,” a delighted Millie said.