Front Line Fight Against Dyslexic Stigmas

By Amy Murray

A medical student who has documented her university journey with dyslexia says other people’s perspectives held her back more than the condition itself.

Becca Riley, 24, has been using Instagram to share advice with current and hopeful medical students, and students with dyslexia.

She was asked to be tested during her final year of school after an encounter with a teacher.

“I knew I was struggling more than I should have to. I had a math teacher joke about dyslexia one day to me and so I went home and looked it up. Sure enough it matched a lot of what I was feeling and experiencing.”

Becca said her teacher’s perspectives of her diagnosis were disheartening. She was discouraged from applying to do medicine at University and was instead pushed to consider “something more achievable.”

“My teachers didn’t believe in me and didn’t push me… that really shot my self-confidence.”

Although Becca didn’t get the grades for medicine, she was able to start a foundation degree at University of Bradford. It was here that she learnt how to use her dyslexia to her advantage.

“I was really reluctant to put [my dyslexia] on my UCAS because I worried that would be an automatic no but I’m glad I did because it allows me to get the support I needed.”

“I’m ridiculously competitive and the more people told me no, the more I was determined to make it happen! Call me stubborn, but I knew I was capable, and I just needed to develop my own methods of studying.”

Becca initially struggled to take notes in lectures. She soon adapted with the use of a dictaphone and, when listening back at her own pace, discovered a new aptitude for aural learning. She was able to absorb knowledge faster than she ever had before.

This isn’t a hinderance. It’s just what makes my brain work a bit different but also better in other ways.”

After achieving a BSc in Clinical Studies with first class honours, Becca decided to reapply for medicine. She is now in her fourth year of studying medicine at Queens. 

Becca is continuing to document her journey on her Instagram page, “Puddle of Ginger”. She says she started blogging because felt it was needed.

“I had so many questions and wanted to know so much about medicine and couldn’t find the information anywhere. I wanted to fill that void for people.”

In a blog post, Becca said she wanted to share her experience to let others know that, even with dyslexia, you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

“I have been there, I have struggled, been told I couldn’t, doubted myself but also been able to prove them all wrong. Can I study Medicine if I’m dyslexic? Heck yeah!”

For more information on Dyslexia contact the Northern Ireland Dyslexia centre at 028 9065 4670 or take a look through their website at info@nidyslexiacentre.co.uk.

Author profile

Amy Murray is a QUB Music Graduate and current Journalism MA student at Ulster Univeristy. She has a passion for Cultural, Social and Solutions Journalism. She represented Northern Ireland at the British Council’s Future News Worldwide Conference in 2019.