Graduation joy for St Albans student with Crohn’s disease and Dyspraxia

Jake Borrett at the University of Hertfordshire's Graduation ceremony at St Albans Cathedral. Photog

Jake Borrett at the University of Hertfordshire's Graduation ceremony at St Albans Cathedral. Photograph by Pete Stevens - Credit: Pete Stevens -

“Invisible disabilities” have proved no hurdle for a St Albans student who has graduated with first class honours in English literature and creative writing.

Jake Borrett, 22, said that graduating from the University of Hertfordshire last week was “wonderful”, especially as one of his conditions make people believe, incorrectly, that he is lazy.

During his first year at the Hatfield-based university he was diagnosed with dyspraxia, and he has had Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammatory disease of the intestines, all his life.

He said both conditions have impacted on his studies, but for very different reasons.

Dyspraxia is form of developmental coordination disorder. It can also affect speech and impact on everyday life skills in education, work and employment.

Jake said: “One area dyspraxia affects me is in learning, thought and memory which means I have difficulties in planning, organisation and concentration. At university this meant taking notes for long periods of time in lectures and seminars was a struggle and so was planning and structuring essay and examination responses.”

He added: “There is still a preconceived idea that people with learning conditions are stupid, lazy or even dangerous. This is far from the truth. They are bright, creative, inspirational individuals. It was a relief to be given a diagnosis as dyspraxia has made me determined to achieve my ambitions in spite of my invisible disabilities.”

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While dyspraxia made certain aspects of studying difficult, his Crohn’s disease impacted in different areas of his university experience, such as the social side.

Jake said: “I often experience abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fatigue and anxiety because of my Crohn’s disease. This made balancing education and a social life tricky throughout university. However, like my dyspraxia, I use my Crohn’s disease to make me a stronger person.”

Having attended one of the university’s graduation ceremonies at St Albans Cathedral last week, Jake is now looking to forge a career in writing.

His advice for any other students with similar personal challenges was to, “not be afraid to ask for help, never be scared to enjoy yourself and always believe in oneself.”