Spirit and determination of NESCol graduate Callum is celebrated

October 5, 2023

Callum Gerrie celebrated receiving his HNC Social Services at the NESCol Aberdeen graduation ceremony on Tuesday, an achievement that at one point health issues threatened to derail.

Callum (25), who is originally from Huntly, first came to College in 2021 to study the Level 6 Access to Social Care course after spending the years previous as a carer for his father and undergoing treatment himself for cancer.

Callum was diagnosed with a Synovial Sarcoma at the age of 19 and during this time was assigned a social worker from the charity Clic Sargent to help him handle the day-to-day challenges that come with a cancer diagnosis. His social worker was hugely helpful to him and her support inspired Callum to want to work in the sector himself.

He enjoyed the course and progressed to the HNC where his interest in social care continued to grow. However not long after starting the HNC, Callum confided in his academic tutor that he was concerned about a pending health scan. Unfortunately it was confirmed that Callum needed surgery to remove further cancer, he was now suffering from a Contra Sarcoma within the deltoid muscle of the same arm he had cancer in previously.

The treatment and subsequent recovery were physically and mentally gruelling for Callum. He had limited use of his arm and had a scribe to support him to complete his College coursework. His Academic Tutor at College, Lecturer Russell Jex, was concerned about Callum’s wellbeing and even suggested he might want to consider taking a year out but resolute in his goal to complete the course, Callum was tenacious in spirit and determination.

Russell said: “The treatment Callum received had great bearing on his daily life. His mobility, ability to concentrate, ability to sleep and function were all compromised. Not to mention the looming fear and anxiety associated with such a diagnosis.

“I watched Callum studiously come in every week to his classes, often wincing in pain, and clearly suffering. Many times I’d encourage him to go home and rest, but he adamantly refused always trying to prioritise his studies.

“Callum continued to be an exceptional student and never once complained. Hats off to him for his wonderful spirit and determination, proving a great role model for his peers.”

Recovered from his treatment, Callum is now doing well and has been able to use his HNC to enter directly into second year of the BA Hons Social Work at RGU. He is enormously grateful to the support he received at NESCol for getting him there.

Callum said: “I can’t stress enough how supportive the lecturing team were. They went above and beyond to help me during my treatment and along with my classmates, many of whom have become firm friends, got me through a really challenging period in my life.

“My time at NESCol was a hugely positive experience – both in terms of my qualification and the knowledge, understanding and perspective I gained and the social connections I have made.”