Adult learner wins Student of the Term award

From starting college in 2018, mature student, Claire Jopson, has an inspirational story to tell after overcoming hardships and accomplishing fantastic achievements.

Her determination and eagerness to learn has been admirable, and as a result, she has been recently awarded with Student of the Term.

Inspirational journey

When Claire started her hairdressing course, she was working through some personal problems, but was determined not to let this affect her learning.

“When I first came to Keighley College, I had not long left inpatient treatment for my eating disorder. It’s been something I’ve constantly had to battle with throughout my time at college, but I’m now in recovery and the college has been an incredible anchor of support throughout my journey.

“College has helped readjust my focus and study hard towards my qualifications. The staff have been so supportive and sympathetic, helping me build my confidence and always offering emotional support. 

“I’ve had huge amounts of encouragement and help with work along the way, and the staff have made me realise that my illness doesn’t have to stop me achieving amazing things. My tutor, Clare Ravenscroft, was genuinely committed to my wellbeing and made sure to always check in to see how I was doing.”

Student of the Term

Due to Claire’s impressive resilience and determination, she was awarded Student of the Term.

“I was so overwhelmed to receive this award! I feel very moved with the gesture and I hope this will inspire others with this illness to stay optimistic and show that there is light at the end of the tunnel. My newfound confidence has helped me deliver training at Leeds Beckett University on eating disorders and interventions with students.”

Clare Ravenscroft, Programme Manager at Keighley College, added: “Claire has come on such an immense journey since starting at college. She has overcome some huge obstacles through real perseverance and admirable courage. With 100% attendance, fantastic results and impressive progress, she completely deserves this award.

Passing with flying colours

After passing Level 2 and Level 3 hair, she has achieved a distinction in her first graded beauty practical and is on track for success.

“It had been a while since I properly laughed, but since starting college and making new friends at college I haven’t stopped laughing! I’ve loved seeing other students progress and develop into fantastic hair stylists. I have made some amazing memories which I will forever cherish.

“In the future, I hope to be a qualified hairdresser and beauty therapist, but also continue to provide training on eating disorders and support people on their journey to recovery.”

Going to great lengths to make a change

A champion of adult education, body positivity and mental health, Jane Dyminski leads the way in inspiring others to achieve their dreams and overcome challenging times.

Currently studying Level 2 Adult Hairdressing at Keighley College, we spoke to her to find out more about her inspirational story of setting up her own wig shop.


What is your experience of being a mature student?


It was really hard to come to college because I’m 45 years old. Previously, I was in dentistry for 30 years so making this career change was a big step for me. The main battle I faced was having no hair; I suffer with alopecia and wear wigs most of the time. Both of these factors acted as real tough barriers for me to overcome, but I’m incredibly glad I did. The young people weren’t as intimidating as I initially anticipated, everyone was so friendly and made me feel very welcome.


What do you enjoy about the course?


I love learning – I was worried that I may be a slow learner due to being out of education for so long, but the tutors are incredibly thorough and knowledgeable, making it easy to learn.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the social aspect. Being a mature student, the young people often approach me with questions and I’m always delighted to be able to help them.


What inspired you to take this course?


I got alopecia when I was only 24 years old – all my hair fell out and I discovered how challenging it was to find good quality wigs. It had always been a dream of mine to set up my own wig shop, so I made the leap of faith and opened the doors of Big Wigs!

After completing a wig-making course, I learnt how to create my own bespoke wigs for my clients. I have always wanted to attend Trevor Sorbie’s wig cutting course, who set up the charity ‘My New Hair’ for his sister who had cancer. To complete the course, you need to be a Level 2 Hairdresser, so this is where my journey at Keighley College began. The course has really shaped my career path – I’ve discovered how much I love hairdressing and my end goal is to be a hairdresser and wig maker.


Is there support for other people experiencing similar challenges?


I run a support group once a month called ‘Friends of Hair’ for anyone experiencing hair loss. Regardless of people’s gender, hair loss can be a devastating confidence knock. The group provides a safe and comfortable environment, where people can discuss their experiences and get support.


How do you promote body positivity?


I use my social media to champion positive body images. Since I set up an Instagram page, I’ve got over 1,000 followers and I’ve also created a blog and website. Many people have found my story and platforms really inspiring – I’ve had messages from Cornwall to America commenting on how I’ve helped transform people’s confidence.

Being different is ok and that’s a message I’m truly passionate about. Social media can often make girls feel as if they’re not good enough, so it is incredibly important for me to show them that it’s good to be unique through posting photos without my hair.


What challenges have you faced?


Attending college as a mature student with no hair was really intimidating. I made sure to change my wig every week so the students got used to seeing different colours and styles. One student told me how nice my hair was – she was so surprised when I told her it was a wig! It was really nice to break the ice and talk openly about my alopecia.

I’m a real advocate of mental health and having alopecia can really affect anxiety levels. It’s important to keep positive and work for something you feel passionate about. It’s great to see so much mental health support within the college.


How does it feel knowing you’ve helped others?


I really like it. I’m trying to spread the word and I really enjoy helping people feel good about themselves. I felt so rubbish for so long at the early stages of alopecia that I wouldn’t want other people to feel like that and I am doing everything I can to empower people.

For more information on Keighley College’s hairdressing courses, click here.