Aspiration Awards 2024: Against All Odds highly commended – Isabelle Melville, Exeter College | NCFE

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Aspiration Awards 2024: Against All Odds highly commended – Isabelle Melville, Exeter College 

Izzy Web

Designed to recognise learners who have overcome difficult personal circumstances to succeed in their studies, the Against All Odds award is very special and always attracts a huge volume of nominations. Highly commended in this year’s award, is Isabelle Melville, who is studying the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care at Exeter College. 

Izzy joined Exeter College in September 2022 after completing her GCSEs at a local secondary school. She worked exceptionally hard to meet the entry requirements, despite having a diagnosis of Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), commonly known as Brittle Bone Disease. This is a genetic lifelong condition, for which there is no cure. Izzy has a severe form of the disease, and the consequence is that her bones are fragile and can break easily with little force being required.   

Overcoming health challenges 

Over recent years, Izzy has had multiple surgeries to insert and replace metal rods in her legs to correct deformities and provide strength for mobility but this does not prevent further fractures from occurring. In addition to long bone fractures, the OI has influenced the development of the spine and she also has scoliosis that is progressively deteriorating. As a result, this causes regular back and hip pain which impacts her mobility and during her first year at the college, she had to undergo surgery to insert a rod into her back.   

These conditions, along with medication and treatment, contribute to fatigue and have also impacted Izzy’s self-esteem and confidence.   

Setting sights on success  

Despite the challenges, Izzy persevered. With the unwavering support of her tutor and college staff she completed her first year, achieving all course requirements, including the mandatory 75-hour work placement. Her college experience also empowered her to take on a part-time job at the college cafe, boosting her confidence and sense of independence. Currently, she juggles her part time job, placement, college work, and ongoing medical procedures, which is nothing short of inspirational. 

Izzy's is described as a ‘caring and empathetic’ individual, with a compassionate nature. She has built strong relationships with her classmates during her time at the college. Despite initially struggling with anxiety in large groups, Izzy has worked hard to overcome this and now confidently participates in class discussions, and is achieving high grades.  

Looking ahead 

Izzy has exciting plans for the future, hoping to secure a job working in health and social care, and wants to buy a house and a car.  

Congratulations Izzy! To read more inspirational stories from this year's award winners, visit our Aspiration Awards 2024 page

Izzy has been an inspiration to both students and staff. Her perseverance and constant positive attitude to achieving her goals has been exceptional. As a college, we work hard to ensure our students achieve their full academic potential alongside professional skills when working in health and social care. Throughout the duration of the course Izzy has maintained her passion for the course and the subject area and at times has attended college and her work placement whilst in considerable pain, which has motivated others to strive to achieve a similar proactive approach.

Gina Goff, Curriculum Area Manager Health and Social Care, Healthcare, Childcare and Uniformed Protective Services, Exeter College


Isabelle Melville, Exeter College

Against All Odds highly commended – Izzy Melville, Exeter College