Against the odds: a lesson in willpower

By Charlotte Oliver, August 21, 2014
Proving them wrong: Jake Geller

Proving them wrong: Jake Geller

Jake Geller never thought he would finish school, let alone go to university, after health issues and learning difficulties sapped his confidence.

But the Prestwich student defied all odds to achieve an A and a B at A-level, and a distinction in BTEC science, securing a place to study geography at Manchester Metropolitan University.

"My primary school teachers told me I'd never be able to read or write," said the 18-year-old, whose severe asthma and dyslexia kept him off school for long periods. "It's safe to say I proved them wrong.

"My parents pushed me and told me I could do it, which clearly paid off. They are ecstatic."

He described how, after moving from school to school before GCSEs, he finally found his footing at Abbey College in Manchester, where he "learnt the tools" to improve his studies and make friends. Headteacher Liz Ellam said: "It was clear from the minute he started that he was highly intelligent, and just needed a small environment to help build up his confidence."

The college provided online resources to help him while he was away from class, and also put him in small groups so he could receive more attention.

Jake, whose family belong to the Higher Prestwich Hebrew Congregation, has now joined a one-year yeshiva course in Israel, where he hopes to "build self-belief even more", before starting university next year.

"I want to show people that even if you have learning difficulties or bad health, it is still possible to do well and get good results; you can always do better if you try harder.

"I didn't believe in myself for so long but I know now that I am good enough."

Last updated: 3:25pm, August 21 2014