How a chlorine allergy and a market job shaped these A-Level students’ dreams

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Students Georgina (L) and Mia (R) have shared their inspiring stories about why they are going to study at university. Credit: Cardiff Sixth Form College

It's been described as an academic year "like no other" because of the pandemic - but despite this, nearly half of this year's A-level results in Wales are A or A* grades.

Now, two top students who have studied through all the challenges of coronavirus have shared their inspiring stories.

Georgina Withers-Boalch used to swim for Wales, but had to stop on doctor's orders Credit: Cardiff Sixth Form College

Aspiring swimmer Georgina Withers-Boalch, 18, dreamed of Olympic glory rather than academic success as she trained nine times a week.But after developing breathing difficulties, she was diagnosed with a chlorine allergy.The talented teenager was part of the Welsh swimming squad, but her doctors told her she needed to quit the sport because of her allergy.

Determined Georgina decided to focus on her grades and set her sights on becoming a criminal barrister.She has now achieved four A* grades in biology, history, maths and chemistry and is set to study law at University College London.Georgina said: "At first I thought I had asthma as I had a very bad cough, was really chesty and my sinuses were playing up and when I was racing I was literally gasping for air."However, I was swimming nine times a week at that point and am very determined and competitive so I didn’t want to give up."Georgina was left taking four medications a day for an under-developed larynx before she finally hung up her swimsuit.She focused on her studies and achieved 14 A*s at GCSEs to win a scholarship to top school Cardiff Sixth Form College.Georgina said: "Having attended a History trip where we visited the Old Bailey and watched cases, I had my heart set on being a criminal barrister and bought several books and read up about the Crown Prosecution Service."Georgina, whose mum has worked as an NHS physio technician in the pandemic, added: "Both my parents joke that they don’t know where my brains have come from."I am just so pleased I have a place at UCL and can make my parents proud.”

Mia Goddard was inspired to study medicine after working at Cardiff Market. Credit: Cardiff Sixth Form College

Meanwhile, a youngster who met people from all walks of life during her weekend job at Cardiff Market has been inspired to train as a doctor.

Mia Goddard has been accepted at Cardiff University School of Medicine after achieving four A*s.

Mia said she observed many mental health and family problems whilst working with the public, which made her want to help.

She added: “I have worked part-time since I was 14 years old so I am excited for the challenge of medical school.

"In fact, my Saturday and Sunday jobs at the market, a haberdashery shop and most recently Marks and Spencer have given me lots of confidence."