Craig Ashley Shepherd, 28, from Kent, now lives in Crawley and works as a Passenger Service Agent at Gatwick Airport. He grew up in the social services care system with undiagnosed Asperger’s. He never thought University was possible, but after applying for and receiving DSA funding he gradually turned his life around.

Craig experienced many traumas while growing up. Eventually, with the help of DSA funding, he got a suitable support tutor and was able to progress. He has sessions with Sheila 2-3 times a week that help him focus on study content, manage his time and understand exam questions. Sheila loves the work she does.

“We’ve built up a good understanding of each other. He’s been through ups and downs but he always knows I will be here for him.”

Craig’s Asperger’s wasn’t recognised until adulthood. It means he over-analyses information, which becomes frustrating and overwhelming. For many years, college was an uphill battle, but Craig now plans to accomplish an MA and PhD after finishing his degree in Travel & Tourism at Arden University. He’s the first member of his family to attend University.

“Going to University was all about trying to develop my life… it’s given me mental strength.” Craig highly recommends other students applying for DSA. “If the support wasn’t there, the degree wouldn’t be happening…”

You can apply for DSAs if you’re studying in England and you have a learning difficulty, mental health condition, physical disability or even a long-term health condition. For more information on how to apply, visit: www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas

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