For many students, Graduation Day is a day to feel proud after months of hard work and deadlines has all paid off. But for Ami Green, the day was extra special after battling an illness which left her without her sight for prolonged periods.
Ami, 24, who lives in Kingswinford, took a year out after completing her A-Levels in French, German and English to search for a degree that combined her passions in language and teaching.
“I took a year off and did some work experience at my old primary school, which I absolutely loved,” says Ami. “I then found the course at Worcester, which had a primary languages pathway, which I knew was perfect for me.”
The course offered Ami everything she wanted, including Qualified Teacher Status, and she started her course in 2007.
However, instead of graduating in three years, Ami took an extra year to complete her studies after developing a one in 100,000 condition called Neuromyelitis Optica, which affects the central nervous systems.
Her condition meant Ami would lose her eyesight and mobility for periods of time and she struggled to complete the heavy workload that was slowly starting to build up.
“I started having problems when I was 14,” says Ami, “But then nothing until I was 18. When I took a year off I was fine and then when I started university it flared up again.”
Ami carried on without a diagnosis until she was on a placement in Belgium and suffered a severe relapse which resulted in her losing the use of her legs and having muscle spasms.
“When I got back to England, I went to see a neurologist,” she says. “That was when I was diagnosed with Neuromyelitis Optica.”
Although Ami has recovered her mobility now, she has suffered six relapses in the past two years whilst completing her degree.
“Every time my vision went, I had to apply for mitigating circumstances and I had a huge build up of work,” she says. “When it came to doing my dissertation, I had a severe relapse and lost my sight completely.”
Ami used a programme called VIVA assessment to help her finish her Professional Development Research Project which she had to dictate to support workers and use a Dictaphone to complete.
“It has been an incredibly stressful and difficult time, but I never allowed myself to think about giving up,” she says. “I’m so proud that I have managed to achieve my degree, but I couldn’t have done it without the amazing support from my family.”
Ami graduated with a 2:1 degree in Primary Initial Teacher Education BA Hons and although she still has to travel to Liverpool for treatment, she hopes her condition will become stable so she can apply for a position in a school.