Former BMX racer achieves first class degree at Portsmouth after recovering from serious brain injury

Glen wicken on bmx

Mature student, Glen Wicken, lost two years of memory and had to learn to walk again

  • 19 August 2020
  • 5 min read
A former BMX racer who suffered a serious brain injury after a bike accident, has graduated with a first class degree from the University of Portsmouth. 

Glen Wicken, 46, returned to education to help him start his own business after the accident during a practice run in 2000. 

He lost two years of his memory due to his injury and had to learn to walk again. 

After several years working as a caretaker at different schools and a background as an electrician and BMX racer, Glen realised he needed a change. He’d previously been involved in touring the world working for bicycle companies to promote their products and had discovered a talent for designing new bikes.

A visit to the University with the school he was working at inspired him to put all his work experience together and start a BSc Product Design and Innovation degree to gain the skills he would need to become an entrepreneur. And after five years of study, Glen has recently graduated with a first class honours degree. 

Glen, who is from Portsmouth and has children said: “It just suddenly clicked while I was on a visit to the University with the school and it made me realise I could do this as a mature student. Seeing the students inspired me and I wanted to do that. 

“It was also about confidence as after my accident I thought ‘Can I do this again? Can I relearn?’ and I was lucky enough that I could.”
glen wicken
During his time at the University, Glen set up his own business during his Self Employed Placement year called StepXcycle, a 3D printed, transportable, electric step bike made from new material sciences. The idea won an IMechE award for recognition of working to advance innovation in engineering. 

The Student Enterprise Team were able to offer support to Glen during his placement, where he also won funding to help with his start up. Now, while he waits for the impact of COVID-19 on the industry to improve, Glen has put his heart into the community by offering affordable bike servicing and has put in a bid to build a new website to help promote and develop his business. 

While his brain injury caused memory loss, dyslexia and stress during his studies, Glen was able to use the Additional Support and Disability Advice Centre on campus to overcome these issues and graduate with the highest honours classification available.

Glen added: “Going through University made me realise that I can be entrepreneurial and not be afraid to give things a go. My advice for anyone considering studying at the University is that there are some really great courses for innovative minds that make you think outside the box. My experiences have made me realise that it’s never too late to start learning.”

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