As a child Shelly was diagnosed with Premature Sexual Maturation, but to her this is now a thing of the past. Shelly likes to look to the future and has kindly written about her life now.

After I left my secondary school I decided to start a Foundation course at KIAD. I needed this top up year to go to university, and art was the subject I wanted to study. I found KIAD extremely hard as the standards were so high; unfortunately I was referred that Christmas. I felt my work was fine but the teachers didn’t agree with me. I was given extra work to do over the Christmas period and returned to KIAD a new student. My grades went up; I worked my socks off! One teacher said “you could actually be a graphic designer” which made me very happy. At the end of the year we put an amazing show on of our last project and I was so proud of my work.

My next challenge was UCAS and finding the right university to enhance my skills. I didn’t have much time to look around and decided to apply to two universities; Ravensbourne which was nearby and the University of East London; they both had a graphic design course. My heart was set on Ravensbourne. I was very excited when I got an interview but on the day, to my horror the interview was terrible. It was no surprise when a letter came through saying I had not been accepted. A couple of weeks later I got an interview for the University of East London, again I was very excited. At the interview we were told that the course had completely changed, instead of graphic design the course had been split into about seven subjects. We were asked to choose one or two subjects before we went for our interview. I chose printmaking and book arts and illustration. The interview went great; the person loved my work and asked me to talk about different pieces. I was very happy and optimistic that I would be accepted. I was overjoyed when I got the letter confirming this.

During signing in week the university put me in double honours and I didn’t know what to do. I finally got on the right course; just book arts and illustration! The first day I met the people in my class, they seemed lovely, but there was no sign of a lecturer. We were told he had been employed for the second week and that this week we have to look up illustrators in the library. This should have been a warning of things to come. The lecturer was amazing; he was motivating and creative but very critical. Unfortunately, he quickly left the university, another lecturer lasted a day, and we had computers with no mice, meetings that didn’t solve anything, completed set work and then told that it wasn’t going to get marked. All this was very de-motivating, but we thought this is the first year of the course, so let’s see what happens. We then got a new lecturer, she was great, very organised and on the ball, very motivating. In the last term the lecturer was away on a course and things deteriorated. Our group of friends started arguing, we turned up at lectures only to be sent home because the lessons had been cancelled. Teachers were not showing, I was feeling awful about the course but we did have a great project. We put an exhibition on as a group of seven and showed our work. The show went really well and we got some very good feedback from it.

I had had enough and I wanted to try another university for my last year. I decided to take a year out! I was so lost I didn’t know what to do. I was working part time in a woman’s fashion shop so I increased my hours but soon decided I wanted to try something different.  I couldn’t apply for another university for a couple of months so I decided to leave the clothes shop; I got a job with full time work over Christmas. I knew what university I wanted to go to – KIAD in Maidstone; I loved KIAD in Rochester so much that I knew it was the right place for me. After Christmas I came across a job in the job centre at a tickets place providing audience tickets for TV shows. The next day I got a phone call for an interview. It went great, the interviewer felt my bubbly, loud and friendly personality was right for the job and there and then asked when I could start. He said that he couldn’t give me full time hours but he would work around my hours at the Pier; I’m still working there now.

I loved the KIAD campus at Maidstone and on open day I saw some of the work and had my interview. I was not confident about the interview because the lady wasn’t eager to share if I was accepted or not, but I got the letter to say I got in. I was so happy and I rang up everyone. I felt I had made the right decision. At Maidstone I will be living in student accommodation with 3 other people. I am still working providing tickets for all different TV shows. The Pier is great, I work three nights a week but it’s very quiet. I don’t know if I’m going to keep up my jobs when I go to university. I am just going to wait and see what happens, but I can’t wait to embark on my fresh new life in Maidstone, studying Illustration.


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