Our amazing student President Jinty talks candidly in her own words about the challenges she has faced and how college has helped changed her life.
Please be aware, Jinty's story mentions instances of substance abuse and domestic abuse which some may find upsetting.
"My Name is Jeanette Dobson but everyone calls me Jinty. I am 45 and I am the Student Association President. I am a single mum of three children, my youngest being 15. I have dyslexia and I am currently in homelessness accommodation, awaiting a more permanent property.
I applied to College in 2019 and after a year of hard work I successfully completed Health and Social Sciences level 4. I then progressed onto level 5 Health and Social Care last year, which I successfully completed.
My childhood was very diverse, my parents had a love hate relationship and split up on a regular basis. My mother stayed in Edinburgh and my Father in Livingston. I was enrolled in two primary schools one in Edinburgh and one in Livingston. My mother was an alcoholic and my dad worked full time so my two brothers and I were backwards and forwards all the time.
I was disengaged from school. I had dyslexia, which was not recognised at that time and I had a lot of family turmoil.
I achieved all foundation qualifications at school with one exception. I managed to achieve a credit for music, for singing and playing the drums. I loved music and drama and I was great at dancing and playing the drums.
I left high school when I was 15. I was told that I wasn’t allowed to continue school because of low grades and poor academic ability. I was signposted to a YTS (Young Training Scheme) in administration, which I didn’t enjoy, so I left after two months and I got a job in Farmfoods as a counter assistant and a packer.
A new chip shop was opening in Niddrie, where I lived, so I decided to apply and was successful. I became a counter assistant and a cleaner and worked there for almost two years.
At age 17 I found my party feet. I continued with my job in the chip shop, but made some wrong life choices and mixed with the wrong people. This resulted in lack of interest in myself and life, and I left my job and this was the start of a downhill spiral.
At the age of 18 I moved to Glasgow after meeting someone, who I thought to be special, and had three beautiful children. Unfortunately, relations broke down and there was domestic abuse. At the age of 23, I managed to move back to Edinburgh and moved in with my mum, before securing my own house. However, the abusive relationship carried on due to the link with the children.
I secured a part time night shift job in a taxi firm, as a security officer and answered the phones. During the day I was full time mum to my three young children and at night I worked.
At the age of 28, I decided that I wanted a better life for me and the children. I moved to Livingston. I managed to secure myself a private let, and finally finished the abusive relationship with the children’s father.
I started to take prescription medication but that led to addiction. My life spiralled out of control once again and social work intervention for the children threatened my relationship with my youngest son, who was still at home.
This led me to hit self destruct button, and I made further wrong choices, which resulted in intervention from the criminal justice system. This intervention triggered support from DASAT (Domestic Abuse Sexual Assault team). I was supported by DASAT for three years.
This support led me towards completing a course with the Venture Trust to rebuild myself and my life.
I was offered an opportunity for either career support or to apply for a College Place. I wanted to understand my life, my choices and people. I felt I had a lot to offer, due to all of my experiences, and applied to West Lothian College to do a Health and Social Sciences level 4 course.
When I started College, my lecturer noticed I needed a little support and referred me to Learning Support who arranged for me to have a LADS test, which is a test to determine dyslexia.
Finally, after all these years I was told I was not stupid I had dyslexia. I was not a low achiever, I just needed a bit of support. The College supported me by allocating 1:1 support, coloured overlays, rulers, jotters and paper, so I could see and understand what I was doing.
From then on everything became clear. I achieved level 4 and progressed to level 5 Health and Social Care and completed that too. During my time at college my landlord requested his property back and I found myself and my son homeless. The college provided me with support and after contacting the council was housed in homelessness accommodation.
I also got involved with the Student Association. This role helped build confidence, self esteem and it made me feel part of something, and something positive. I enjoyed speaking to students about their experiences and I felt that students really looked up to the ambassadors as we were there to support them.
An opportunity to run for the role of Student President was advertised, and with support from the ambassadors and SA Team, I applied. I didn’t think I would get the job as I had a lot of self-doubt.
But I did.
I was elected.
People believed in me and that led to me believing in me.
I have now been the Student President for almost a year. This has been a very different year. A pandemic hit and I really wasn’t sure I would be able to cope with my role. However, I have been supported by a dedicated staff member who has been amazing, a supportive Vice President and college staff. In this year, I have learned things that I would never have had the opportunity to learn anywhere else. I am a board member, I am committee member, I lead on student health and wellbeing, I create campaigns and events to support and educate students. I have created, grown, trained and mentored a team and I feel privileged and honoured to represent our students and ensure that they are at the forefront of everything we do.
I believe in myself now and after this role ends I want to work in the Prison rehabilitation service, supporting people leaving prison and starting a new life.
I know how it is to make bad choices and where that can potentially lead, but, I also know about good choices and how much better your quality of life can be.
Look at me. I am a living example of this."