Samantha Manickum-Bird

Studied Access to Health and Social Care - Higher Education Diploma at B&FC • Graduated in 2016

Samantha Manickum-Bird

My Story

My story begins in 2002. I left school without any real thought to my future or sense of who I really was, all I knew was that I wanted to further my education.

I didn’t take up much careers advice because at the age of 16 ‘I knew everything’ – I was accepted on a national diploma course at B&FC in graphic design.

I loved being creative and I found it came quite natural to me, I became quite complacent and my work didn’t progress at it should have been doing. By December I had enough and I dropped off the course to take up full time work at a local cafe. 

While working I found that I gained real pleasure from helping and conversing with others, I met so many people who had so many stories to tell; I realised that I could learn a lot about life through the experiences of others. I did a lot of thinking about the direction of my life and decided I wanted to further my education.

It came to July and I decided to enrol once again into B&FC this time I was studying A-levels and resitting my Maths GCSE. The subjects I chose were psychology, sociology & biology. I enjoyed learning about psychology and biology most of all.

The human mind fascinated me and so did the human body. It was here that I first became interested in working with ‘mental health’. Towards the end of my first year my life was suddenly shaken up. I had moved out of my family home and was living in my first rented home, working 2 jobs to pay the rent. It was said that I looked like ‘the living dead.’ I was completely exhausted, struggling to revise for my exams and too proud to ask for help. My grades suffered; I failed biology and I missed my first year psychology exam – I couldn’t get over this mistake. Thankfully I passed my maths GCSE. I enrolled for 2nd year but it all became too much and I dropped out after a month.

I worked a few bar jobs eventually I become employed at a bookmakers – I worked there for 6 years, all the while knowing that I wanted to make something more of myself. I became very bored, depressed and overweight. I had two children. In 2012 my 2nd child was born - I decided that I needed to change. I left my job.

The plan was to obtain an education and become someone I was happy to be. I was soon approached by The Breastfeeding Network, (I had been involved with them when my Son was born in 2008 as I had been part of a breastfeeding campaign.) they asked me if I would train to become a ‘Star-buddie’ volunteer breastfeeding supporter, I accepted. 

I started to believe in myself once again, I began to set myself manageable goals, I lost weight, learned to drive and I passed my training. I began volunteering within the community and on the maternity wards at the local hospital, where I worked alongside midwives and other health professionals. I loved this work, it was so worthwhile, I decided that I wanted to be a midwife or a mental health nurse.

I took a job working for NHS 111 and at the same time applied to do the Access to HE course – This time nothing was going to get in the way of my education, I had set a goal and I was going to achieve it. Eventually with help from my peers and tutors I decided upon ‘Mental health nursing’ I applied and was accepted onto a degree. I passed the Access course with full distinction in human physiology (a personal goal of mine, since I had failed the biology A-level) and a mixture of merit and distinction in social issues in health care, I am so proud of this achievement.

My Most Recent Role...

BSc (Hons) Mental Health Nursing

How B&FC Helped Me

B&FC helped me in so many ways, most of all it helped me to realise my potential and build resilience.

The lecturers were approachable, dependable and always on hand to offer support and guidance; I was inspired by their teaching methods and empowered to delve a little deeper into my subjects. No class was ever dull.  

The modules that I studied during the access course have provided a vital foundation in preparation for the Mental health nursing degree.

The knowledge that I have acquired surrounding human physiology has been excellent and I believe without it I would have struggled with the anatomy and physiology lectures at university, it has enabled me to look at the human body and it functions and have a basis of understanding of what to expect when ‘things go wrong’.

The sociological knowledge I gained during the course was particularly relevant to my first assignment at university, but sociological issues are something that will come up time and time again during my years at university and beyond.

Other aspects of the access course that have truly helped are; learning the art of essay writing, conforming to deadlines, presenting work in front of others and working as a team.

I will always think that my ‘Student Nursing Journey’ began at B&FC with the Access to HE course.

Why B&FC?

B&FC has a great reputation, from my past experiences I always found that the teaching, support and facilities to be great.

B&FC was easily accessible for me; although I can drive it was also close to a bus route meaning that I had a back-up plan.


"What keeps me going is goals" – Muhammad Ali.