Former student overcomes autism to graduate

25 January 2015

With the right support, you can achieve anything – that’s the belief of a former Oaklands student who recently graduated from university.

Jonathon Lennon, 26, from Potter’s Bar, has high-functioning autism, something that teachers at his secondary school struggled to understand.

“They didn’t really understand me or the support I needed in order to progress and I didn’t know what I was going to do when I finished school,” said Jonathon, who left school with three GCSEs.

After leaving school, Jonathon chose to study IT at Oaklands, followed by a BTEC National Diploma in Interactive Media at the St Albans Campus, so he could develop himself as a creative computer user.

“I chose Oaklands because I knew that it provided a positive learning environment for students with disabilities. My tutors were very sympathetic to my needs and recognised the support I needed to be able to do well,” said Jonathon.

Jonathon flourished at Oaklands, and went on to become a Student Representative, where he actively worked with the College to find solutions to issues of his fellow students.

Transition Worker Ela Nisbet also worked with Jonathon to make sure he was able to experience being in a work place.  

Ela, who supported Jonathon throughout his studies at Oaklands said: “I am really pleased to see that Jonathon is doing so well. He is a delightful young man and deserves this success.  It really goes to show that if someone has the right level of support, they can reach their potential and do whatever they want to do.”

Jonathon went on to study at the University of Hertfordshire and completed a Degree in Interactive Media Design. He was recently given his first paid assignment by charity Disability Rights UK, who asked him to do some photography for their new publication Into Further Education, a guide for young disabled people looking to study Further Education. Jonathan also features in the publication as a case study.

“The College set me up well for university. With their help and support, I began to believe that I was capable of going to university and doing well,” said Jonathon.