B(L)ackstage Stories: Introducing Kessle

Welcome to the B(l)ackstage Stories blog series, my name is Renée Landell and for Black History Month I asked a few Black students and alumni to tell me their story.

This series aims to showcase amazing and talented Black Royal Holloway students and alumni in the hope of inspiring the next generation of Black students. Over the next few days I will be sharing their stories of ‘becoming’, overcoming and succeeding.

Kessle Boldeau’s Story

(Alumni, Economics and Management)

 “I underwent a biopsy at Great Ormond Street Hospital, a month after migrating to the U.K. having developed an inconclusive diagnosis of a mass behind my right eye and over my brain at age 10. Nevertheless, although a successful biopsy, there was an inconclusive diagnosis, and fortunately, the agonising daily migraines and bulge of my right eye began to decrease. I remained stable for a few years, until collapsing in school, suffering with multiple seizures. As a result, I spent that summer in and out of hospital (for roughly 6-8 weeks).

"Unsure of the direction of my life, the consultants assured me that I was able to continue studying. Suffering another seizure during AS-Levels, I realised that I couldn’t manage mentally, physically and emotionally. I dropped out to pursue accounts with an accounting organisation (AAT). Fortunately, I was able to complete this course whilst maintaining medical stability, but the check-ups, scans and hospital appointments never ceased.

"Pursuing further education, I studied the Access to Business course to gain entry into university. But, when I applied through UCAS, I was rejected by all my five choices. I was upset, annoyed and a bit depressed, especially as my friends were accepted for some of the same courses I applied for. I was given another option by UCAS, and again I was rejected. Granted with one final opportunity (applying with a lack of hope and sense of depression) I was accepted into Royal Holloway. Despite collapsing again, I returned to college the next day, worked hard and qualified with top marks.

"In summer 2016, before starting university, I received a call stating the findings of my recent MRI scan; the mass was moving onto my brain and they needed to operate immediately. Not wanting to delay my degree by a year, as 6-8 weeks recovery time was necessary, I negotiated with the University and consultants to operate right before term ended for Christmas holidays, allowing me to miss the first two weeks of Spring Term. It was the most boring, annoying and painful Christmas period ever - but it saved my life. At the end of first year, a conclusive diagnosis was made (Immunoglobulin G4 Disease: IgG4 – DR), and I underwent two medical infusions to help ensure more stability in my health.

Image of the Badminton team

Image of the Womens Football Team

"Collapsing once more, I’ve been fortunate to be part of a great group of individuals leading the African Caribbean Society; as both Events Manager and President. I was presented with two awards at Socs Ball, of which I truly believe the committee is more deserving of it than I am. Moreover, I’ve graduated, and I'm now working in full-time employment. I believe everyone has their own journey and struggles to share, but in my journey, I’ve had to fight signs of depression, lack of motivation, stress and excruciating pain. I don’t know what works for you, but God and perseverance got me through. I believe that no matter your TRIALS, TROUBLES and TRIBULATIONS, there’s always going to be a hopeful testimony.”