Kirklees College student secures life-changing scholarship


Jax Lovelock, Malcolm Parkinson, Megan Koolaji and Rebecca Easterbook stand in front of rock wall with leaves at Taylor Hill Animal Centre

Megan Koolaji, Level 3 Animal Management student at Kirklees College’s Taylor Hill Animal Centre, has secured a life-changing scholarship for university study.

Megan, who has chronic lung disease, is the definition of resilient. At just 14 years old, she underwent several major surgeries that left her in a week-long coma and with severe long-term impacts, including seizures. Megan was also required to shave her hair for her surgeries and this, alongside the physical and psychological trauma of her health issues, meant that she couldn’t attend school and was eventually held back a year. 

Faced with social anxiety and ill health, secondary school was tough for Megan. It was her new puppy, Ruby, that helped her get through those tough years and also ignited a love for animals in her. When it came to deciding her next steps after school, Megan was immediately drawn to Kirklees College’s Animal Management course, as she knew she wanted to care for animals the way that she had also been cared for when she was in pain. 

Speaking about her time at Kirklees College, Megan said:

“Coming to college has helped me find myself. I’ve made really great friends and grown in confidence, which has made me stronger. I wouldn’t be as motivated and dedicated as I am if I hadn’t been through what I’ve been through and my journey has taught me that nothing is handed to you on a plate but if you work hard, good things can happen.”

Megan is now in her year of study and had been considering university as her next step when the Student Experience team at college were alerted to a grant offer for students from lower socio-economic backgrounds who wanted to attend university. The scholarship, which offers £4,000 every year for three years of study, is provided by the Mirfield Education Charity.

Upon hearing about the scholarship fund, Jax Lovelock from the Student Experience team reached out to tutors at the college to ask if they had any students who may benefit from the scholarship and Animal Care tutor Rebecca Easterbrook instantly nominated Megan.

The application deadline was 31 January and Jax and Rebecca had almost completed it when they realised they needed a final signature from Megan, who was on a trip with the college to South Africa at the time with no phone or internet signal! After frantically trying to get hold of Megan, Jax was able to secure the signature over email and resorted to driving to Malcolm’s house, who is from the Mirfield Education Charity, on deadline day to physically hand him the application.

Despite the timing going down to the wire, once the Mirfield Education Charity met to discuss applications for the bursary, Megan stood out clearly as a worthy candidate. Months later, Rebecca, Malcolm and Megan were all able to meet in person, where Malcolm congratulated Megan on securing the coveted bursary.

Jax Lovelock, Student Community Development Officer said:

“This was an opportunity we simply couldn’t miss, it’s life-changing, and because it can only be applied for through college, it was a huge team effort – my thanks go to all involved. Megan is an inspirational young person and I have no doubt that her story will inspire others to persevere in the face of extreme difficulties. The legacy of this will continue for years to come, and she can be extremely proud of that, as we are of her.”

Megan has applied to study Veterinary Science at the University of Central Lancashire and Veterinary Nursing at Askham Bryan College. She will be the first person to go to university in her family and is a true trailblazer.

To find out more about Animal Care courses at Kirklees College, click here.

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