Dunmow student heads to Cambridge University

Cyan Williams

Cyan Williams - Credit: Archant

A first-class university student from Dunmow has been accepted to study a PhD at the University of Cambridge.

Cyan Williams, 22, recently graduated from Bangor University with a degree in Chemistry, but the road to success has been a little bumpier than most for the graduate.

“I have dyslexia, Irlen Syndrome and Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)”, she said.

“I take Ritalin for the ADD, and since being at university wear very dark tinted glasses and use colour paper for writing and reading for Irlens.”

Irlens is a syndrome which affects the way the brain interprets visual information, making it especially difficult to read clearly.

As a result, Cyan struggled during her schooldays, but, determined to do well, passed all of her GCSEs with two A*’s, seven A’s, a B and a C.

A year on, she received her AS results, which were lower than she had hoped for, but after improving exam technique, Cyan passed with qualifications in Maths, Chemistry and Biology.

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After applying for universities though, Cyan did not manage to get into her first choice university and had to look into clearing instead.

She said: “When I did not get my first choice of university, I went on to clearing, but could not find a course and university that felt right. I got into Bangor very late through clearing as I was on a waiting list, and I got my official UCAS confirmation during Welcome Week.”

As well as having impressive Chemistry facilities, Cyan settled on Bangor for its supportive services, particularly the Miles Dyslexia Centre on campus, and perceiving the world differently proved favourable to Cyan in her later work.

“The fact that I think and see things differently is actually an advantage in research.

“To be able to learn exactly how I want to learn and look up all the background and at my own pace worked very well with my mind that seems to work differently to a lot of other people.”

Now looking forward to studying a PhD in Graphene – an atom-thick particle separated from graphite – Cyan has no regrets about pushing herself to the limit throughout education.

“There were so many times I wanted to give up and leave the academic system that clearly did not work for me, but I am so glad I kept struggling through so I could get to where I am now.”