Undergraduate Claire Norman introduces her project that aims to support students at university.
Attending university can be truly beneficial and offers priceless opportunities and life skills. However, many students feel that their stammer prevents them from ‘coming out of their shell’ and obtaining the confidence required to achieve these. Hence, it can be assumed students who stammer find it difficult to develop in preparation for the working world that faces them when they graduate.
I am a final year undergraduate studying French Studies at the University of Warwick and I have felt for a while now that there is little awareness of stammering within the university environment. In comparison to other, more evident disabilities, such as dyslexia, there is insufficient support for students who stammer. There was obviously a gap in the 'market' as far as I was aware. So I decided to change that.
The Stammerers Through University Campaign (or 'STUC', emphasising the possible feeling of being trapped by having a stammer) is a concept that I created with the aim to bring together students and staff who stammer in a network where they can discuss issues and possible resolutions. It is a social enterprise supported by the University of Warwick in partnership with UnLtd and the Higher Education Funding Council for England and Wales. Thanks to the support of a departmental staff member at the university, I was made aware of the Social Enterprise Award, a scheme that offers funding for schemes that aim to support the wider community. Having posed my idea to a panel of judges, I was awarded £500 to get the scheme up and running.
I held a focus group at my university in February for those affected by stammering, in order for me to gain an insight into what concerns they currently have. My aim is to hold a seminar in October to address the issues raised in a non-judgemental and supportive environment, when I will return as an alumnus to run it. The seminar will include external speakers, people who stammer at Warwick, staff, students, university personnel, Psychology and Applied Linguistics researchers, and many more.
As far as education is concerned, I wish to develop this project to help students affected by stammering by extending it eventually to other universities and broadening the potential outreach. I want to provide students with a greater insight into how going to university doesn’t have to be the most daunting experience they will experience. It is vital to me that the message is emphasised that having a stammer does not have to prevent us from reaching our full potential. With the support of the BSA, together with the University of Warwick, I am certain that this campaign has the potential to succeed and prove beneficial to so many people.
From Speaking Out Spring 2014, p5