Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 3 December 2020

Portrait of a Nation: Meet Abu Dhabi’s cancer-survivor teacher who was inspired to pursue dream job by diagnosis

Lynn Davison went back to college to get her GCSE qualifications after working for 17 years

Lynn Davison, history teacher at Al Yasmina Academy. Victor Besa / The National
Lynn Davison, history teacher at Al Yasmina Academy. Victor Besa / The National

When Lynn Davison was diagnosed with cancer at the age of just 32 she felt her whole world had been brought to a grinding halt.

Instead, it proved to be the starting point for a brand new life for the UAE resident.

Ms Davison worked at a florist wholesaler’s when a chance medical appointment about a sore throat led to a diagnosis in 2002

She had stage three Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, an aggressive form of cancer.

“My whole life crashed before me and I did not know if I would make it,” said Ms Davison, a 49-year-old single mother from Yorkshire in the UK.

With grit and sheer determination and a teenage son to manage, I had the new life I had dreamed about back in 2002

Lynn Davison

“I was divorced at the time and did not have any support at home.

“This diagnosis put my whole life in a different perspective: What did I want out of life?

"I did not want my old life back. If I have a second chance of living, I wanted to make the best of it!"

Ms Davison found her answers in the quiet joy she felt researching the school projects of her son Casey, who was 11 at the time.

After undergoing successful cancer treatment for a year, which included chemotherapy sessions, she started preparing for her future.

She chose to go back to college to get her GCSE and A-Level qualifications in order to achieve her dream of being a teacher.

Now, a history teacher and former head of moral education at Al Yasmina Academy, Abu Dhabi, she encourages pupils to never give up on learning.

“I did not do very well at school the first-time round, and I only left school with two qualifications," said Ms Davison.

"I did not give reverence to my education or put the effort I should have.

"I had left school 16 years ago, so it had been a long time since I had been in a classroom.

"I had a lot to do and I knew that it would be challenging."

In 2003, at the age of 33, she went back to college and through an adult education programme, completed her GCSE’s and A-levels, high-school qualifications in the UK.

Following this, she enrolled for an Access to Higher Education which would enable her to apply to university.

She completed her undergraduate studies in history at The University of Hull. After six years of studies and training, she qualified to work as a teacher in 2009, after which she trained at Endeavour High School in Hull.

"It was by no means easy; the school was an inner-city school with a high percentage of challenging students," she said.

“I graduated as a fully qualified teacher at the end of the academic year 2009.

“I had done it, I achieved my goal. With grit and sheer determination and a teenage son to manage, I had the new life I had dreamed about back in 2002."

After teaching for four years in Yorkshire, Ms Davison decided it was time for a new challenge.

In 2013, she moved to the UAE and started work at a private school in Sharjah where she taught history and geography for two years

Now, Ms Davison has worked in the UAE for seven years and at Al Yasmina Academy for five of those.

Ms Davison teaches pupils in grades six to 12, and does not shy away from telling them she did not do well at school.

"We should not say a child is a failure. There is always something the child is good at," she said.

"I encourage students and tell them if they want something they have to work for it."

"In a "glass half-full" way, Cancer was not all bad for me. Having Cancer really gave me the opportunity to reflect on my life and made me make decisions to improve it the best way I could.

"Teaching is the best job, albeit the hardest job I have ever had, but I would not change my job for the world!"

Updated: October 8, 2020 05:10 PM

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