You Must Fail in Order to Succeed

Cheyenne Smith has made incredible progress in just four years; battling back from numerous health problems and a bitter experience at school to earn a place at university. Here’s her inspirational story.

Four years ago, I finished school and failed all my GCSEs.

I’d always struggled with my anxiety and making friends in school – I was often badly bullied, mainly due to my disabilities.

I had mental and physical health problems growing up, which meant I could only attend school 50% of the time. Even when I was in, I found it difficult to concentrate because my mind was all over the place.

I got very little help and was made to believe I was a failure.

To get back into education and improve my confidence, I enrolled on an Extension Studies course at Weston College. We covered everything from catering, textiles, art, photography and, health and social care.

It was exactly what I needed after my experience of school and helped me get back on track.

Tammy, Residential Specialist Practitioner said “Cheyenne used this year to get used to the differences between school and college and develop her confidence and time management skills. During this time Cheyenne identified that she had an interest in caring and helping others.”

I decided to do a Health and Social Care Certificate in my second year. I got everything in on time and passed everything straight away, which showed how far I had come.

Tammy, Residential Specialist Practitioner said “during this level 2 course, Cheyenne attended different placements to develop her confidence in the work place.”

In my third year, I retook maths and English GCSEs and found it easier to understand the syllabus at College than I had at school. Maybe it was the teachers, how it was timetabled, or the College environment – I’m not sure, but it worked for me!

During an English GCSE class, a tutor from the Access to HE course came to speak to us about the course. I was instantly intrigued by progression opportunities it presented and, in my fourth year, decided to study the Social Sciences Access to HE programme.

Fast forward to the present day and here I’m now studying a Sociology degree at the University of the West of England.

I’ve fought incredibly hard to get to here and I can’t thank Weston College and my family enough for how they have helped me in these past four years.

Most people who knew the old me, would never have thought I’d become the person I am today. I have exceeded everyone expectations including my own – I feel extremely accomplished and proud that I’ve managed to get where I am today.

It wasn’t the easiest fight, but it was most definitely worth it. I was often tempted to quit – feeling that it was a constant fight – but I didn’t give up because I knew I could do more.

I hope my story it will inspire others who have had similar experiences. If the school system has failed you, don’t give up – and remember Albert Einstein’s words:

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

Sometimes you must fail in order to succeed, but you will get there in the end.

Climbing the mountains

I fought extremely hard to get where I am
I cannot explain the intensity and height of the mountains I have climbed
I was often told I would never succeed
I exceeded expectations & now I am pleased
I used to have zero self-belief
I was once innocent and naive
I could have hidden in my own little world
Instead, I strived for greatness
I was constantly asking myself questions
Is there a way out of this war?
Is there any chance I could succeed?
I went to having little self-belief
I’ve now got pride in what I’ve achieved
I never gave up, I never gave in
Intensive dedication is what it took
It started from carrying inner strength
Is there anything I can’t accomplish?

Poem by Cheyenne, 2019.

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