Business and Management graduate Ruby Hamilton, from Dover, learned to embrace her learning difficulties, with the help and support of Wellbeing services at Kent. She went on to secure a sought-after job at Microsoft.
‘When I shared my story a few years ago about accepting my learning disabilities and flourishing at university and work, I was just over the moon to have got a First and a graduate job. Now, I can see that I have achieved so much more.
Recently I was lucky enough to buy my very own house in Dover. I come from a working class background, no woman in my family has ever owned their own house in my family – I am the first. Getting the keys was a real ‘pinch me’ moment.
And last year, I was nominated by my manager to be a baton bearer at the Commonwealth Games, for my charity and mentorship work – I even appeared on the news!
It’s funny to think that when I was a kid, I had very few aspirations. Everything about education was a struggle, from missing months to hospital stints to struggling to write clear sentences because of having dyslexia and dyspraxia.
It was later in secondary school that I developed a desire to prove everybody wrong. I knuckled down for my 6th Form taking multiple subsidiary diplomas. Business Studies being my favourite. When I got a place to study Business and Management in 2017 at KBS it felt like I’d been given an exciting opportunity.
I worked three jobs to get by as a student and stayed at home so I could afford the education. I had a real unquenchable thirst to learn and with the support of the university who provided me with a study skills assistant to check my work for spelling and grammar, I started to fly. My favourite modules were those involving product design and Entrepreneurship.
Working voluntarily for St John’s Ambulance during this time, I also began a role within the Outreach department working with school students to coach them for writing their personal statements.
I then secured a Year in Industry with Microsoft. It was surreal to be entrusted and encouraged to work on big projects for the firm, but it really was pivotal in building the resilient person I am today. I won several in-company awards, including a ‘Leading to Win’ award for my efforts.
Being offered a grad job at Microsoft shortly after was amazing. Covid-19 of course was a hurdle to get over, but being interested in tech meant working virtually didn’t bother me.
Throughout, I continued to do charity work, within prisons where I mentored ex-offenders on being digitally ready and to develop the right accolades to improve their life once they got out. I have really flown in the working environment.
Microsoft is great at supporting my additional needs. I am part of the Disability ERG so I am surrounded by a community of people with disabilities and we run events and mentor young people. Microsoft provide all the technology I need to ease my working day as someone with a learning disability. I also have a work coach and mentor so I perform at my best.
Having support with my neurodiversity has helped me to see that a learning disability isn’t a negative. We can succeed no matter what our perceived shortcomings are, with a little extra help.
This Neurodiversity Celebration Week I want to say that the most important thing to understand is your own learning style and embrace it, don’t fear it.’
If you are studying with The University of Kent and have a Specific Learning Difficulty (SpLD), or feel that you experience difficulties, register with Student Support and Wellbeing. Please view this visual guide on How to get Specific Learning Difficulty Support