How Dewsbury student Hussain overcame the odds to achieve his degree dream

The dreams of a young man from Westtown in Dewsbury were fulfilled a fortnight ago when he went to collect his BSC computing degree certificate from Leeds Beckett University.

By Staff Reporter
Saturday, 30th July 2022, 6:00 am

To attend the university’s annual graduation ceremony was a huge achievement for Mohammad Hussain Patel, who had been diagnosed not so long ago as a dyslexic.

Besides the dyslexia, this young man had to cope with a number of other health conditions during his early childhood. He was anaemic and had asthma.

His problems piled up over the years when it emerged he also had poor vision. But most serious was the dilemma of having difficulty hearing in his left ear.

Mohammad Hussain Patel in his graduation robes

​Mohammad Hussain Patel was born in August 1996. Known fondly to his family members and friends as “Hussain”, he has lived all his life in a small semi-detached house in Westtown. ​

Talking to the Reporter Series, Hussain spoke about his early struggle.

​He said: “I had serious growth problems throughout my infancy. The growth dilemma continued during my primary school years. I was anaemic with iron deficiency.

"So I always stood out from the other kids because of my short and very slim skinny body.

“My appearance made me the target of bullies at school and in my neighbourhood. In fact, I had to put up with a considerable amount of bullying and name calling.

​“The bullying was verbal and physical. The other boys and girls and, sadly, even some adults, used to pinch the back of my neck or my ear-lobes when I least expected it.

"I was ‘picked on’ and had some nasty jokes made about me. My eyesight was poor. So, I obviously wore spectacles - wearing them made the horrible jokes even worse.”

​Speaking about life at school, Hussain continued: ​“My written English was very weak and I obviously used to make plenty of spelling mistakes whilst trying to write even the most basic simple words from the English vocabulary.

“I also had problems with my verbal communication. I used to stutter whilst trying to speak in English and in my heritage Gujarati language. I was even put into the category of a ‘SEN’ (special educational needs) pupil.

"Yet I did not get the full ‘one to one’ support in the classroom usually given to most schoolchildren in my situation. I therefore struggled with my SAT’s tests, as well in my final end of year GCSE exam papers.

​“Most of the people who knew me made fun of my predicament and wrote me off as a failure. Even those who were close to me privately felt I would never get anywhere in life.”

​Yet, unknown to most individuals, Hussain did not give up hope and, with sheer determination, he would eventually defy the odds and prove everyone wrong.

Hussain left school with low GCSE grades. But the exam marks were the least of his problems at that time.

Hussain had to face a frightening challenge after leaving school when he got called into hospital for an operation on his left ear. It was only upon getting discharged from hospital and after recovering from his delicate surgery that Hussain could then focus on his future goals.

Hussain said: “It was a disappointing setback not to have done well in my GCSEs. But then a careers advisor at the Kirklees College’s Waterfront Centre in Huddersfield advised me to study for a level two diploma in information technology.

“At the time, my father also suggested I study in a computing field. He used to watch me at home repairing old broken down computers. It seemed to be the only thing I was good at in my childhood.

“I could miraculously understand the way computers worked! The IT jargon and terminology came to me naturally.

​“So, I enrolled on the IT diploma and passed it. I also gained my functional skills qualifications in maths and English at the same time.

​“Whilst studying on the level two IT course, my tutors began to suspect I was a dyslexic. They saw various symptoms which my teachers at school had not been able to detect.

"The college arranged an examination with a professional consultant. The tests did confirm their suspicions.”

The news he was a dyslexic did not deter Hussain. He continued with his IT diploma studies at Kirklees College, and passed the whole course with a “distinction” grade in the summer of 2017.

​Hussain had meanwhile been encouraged by his college tutors to think of studying further onto a degree level if possible.

He said; “The tutors at Kirklees College went out of their way to support me. But at the time, I personally was not so sure if going to university would be the right decision.

“But then I thought about my parents. My father had come to settle in Dewsbury from the Gujarat state of India over thirty years ago. My mother was also of Indian-Gujarati origin.

"Both were devout Sufi-Muslims who appreciated the value of education and hard work, and the value of earning an honest day’s living. All these values were instilled in my mind from an early age.

​“So, on the one hand, I began to give serious thought about going to university. But I was also hesitant at the same time because of all the previous hurdles I had faced in my life.

“My family however encouraged me to take the next big leap, and so I eventually enrolled to study for a Bachelor of Science (BSC) computing degree at Leeds Beckett University.

“I enrolled on this three year degree course in September 2017 - just four months after I had finished my diploma from Kirklees College. The rest was history.

​“I completed the BSC computing degree in the summer of 2020. The last few months of my degree course were done online because the country was in the grip of the first Covid-19 lockdown.

“The surprising news I had passed came during that same lockdown year’s summer holidays! Such an achievement amazed all my family members and close relatives.

"But it was also a very uncertain time. No one was sure when the graduation ceremony would take place. I could only wait.”

​The climax for Hussain came when he was invited to attend this year’s graduation awards ceremony at Leeds Beckett University. The graduation programme had been delayed because of the two Covid lockdowns - until a fortnight ago (July 14) when Hussain proudly turned up with his parents at the university campus.

He said: “I feel the reason why everything has finally worked out is because I have been very lucky to receive blessings from some highly spiritual Sufi-Muslim scholars in India.

"Their blessings have given me a sense of purpose. Their prayers for me have been a form of intercession.

“My message to anyone else going through what I saw in my life is - please do not give up. Have hope, keep trying by putting in your best efforts, and try again if things do not work out.”

​A host of challenges lay in Hussain’s path many years before he could even think of pursuing his further education goals. The challenges could have affected his mental health. They could have easily demoralised Hussain and even stopped him from pursuing his aspirations.

His problems confronted him at an early age. Yet he remained determined to fulfil his ambitions.

Hussain is now keen to publicise his story so other young people who are going through what he experienced do not lose heart.