1. What motivated you to apply for Step Up?
Initially, before applying to study Step Up at Staffs, I was working in a call centre which was proving to be a rather monotonous role where most days were the same. Deep down, I knew there was no longevity in the position, especially as I needed something to challenge me and where I could develop a career. Energised by the prospect of change, I gained some work experience in a local law firm which really solidified my ambition in wanting to take the plunge. The only thing that held me back was knowing I had not gained any formal qualifications above GCSE’s gained in high school, therefore I was looking for alternatives in order to access university as a mature student. When I started Step Up, I wanted to be a solicitor. However deep down I actually really wanted to be a barrister, but I was put off the idea because I didn’t think it possible without having A-levels (or the full-range of GCSE’s for that matter).
2. How did you feel your first day?
As someone who felt my time spent at school could have gone a little better, I found the prospect of returning to education extremely intimidating – therefore felt this time would be no different. Nevertheless, while I found the first day nerve wracking, the whole environment made me feel comfortable and I found I wasn’t too dissimilar after all to other students within our group. After the first few days, I felt my confidence grow and build. The positive and supportive relationships built with fellow students and the teaching staff allowed the experience to become both enjoyable and rewarding.
3. Has Step Up and your degree helped you in anyway, if so, how?
Looking back to before I started university, I feel Step Up and completing my Law degree has given me an opportunity to realise my true potential. I have noticed my confidence levels grow over the years and the academic elements of the course have allowed me to hone the skills required to be successful within the legal profession. Upon completing my final year, after a pretty arduous application process, I was awarded the Prince of Wales scholarship from Gray’s Inn, which means they will be financing my BPC/LLM course with the University of Law. This means that after being interviewed by three highly experienced barristers, they actually believe I can do it and be successful within the profession I have dreamed about making a difference within. Ultimately, the positive and supportive nature of Step Up and degree level study has I feel provided the supportive and encouraging environment I needed to believe in my own abilities and potential.
4. What advice would you give to students considering returning to education?
The only advice I would give to someone who is thinking of returning of education is don’t think too small. I know it sounds cliché, however it is never too late to change what you want to do in life in order to work towards the goals and ambitions you may have. The whole journey and return to education can cause an element of unease, however it provides an opportunity for you to challenge some of the self-inhibiting thoughts and beliefs that are holding you back from fulfilling your potential. While this may be difficult in the short-term, my advice would be to work through this and get the support from the staff and fellow students. They will be able to guide you through and encourage you to believe in your potential which will act as a firm spring board for your next steps.
5. How do you feel now you have completed your degree and are moving onto your next stages of Barrister training?
I feel energised and inspired overall from the last few years. The whole process of higher education has allowed me to positively change the perception I had of myself which was holding me back. In addition to the academic studies I have completed to date, I am now looking forward to getting stuck into the more vocational and practical elements of legal life and working in the profession. I feel this first-hand experience will form part of a valuable learning curve so one day I can finish my pupillage and become a practicing Barrister in the very near future!
For more details on how to apply for the next intake of Step Up to HE follow the link: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/stepup