I am a mature student from Liverpool, and I’m the first person in my family to go to university.
I had what you might call a disastrous school education. I never enjoyed going to school, and this was reflected in my grades. Going to university wasn’t just out of reach; the thought never even occurred given my economic background and poor education. After secondary school, I drifted from job to job in retail or customer services.
I’d saved enough by 2012 to travel to Australia. That experience was influential in that it opened my mind to other cultures and increased my confidence. I met people from across the world and gained self-esteem and enough motivation to enrol at my local college. I had always had an interest in media, particularly photography, and at that college I gained a BTEC National Diploma in Photography and Imaging, then some years later I went back to my college and got four GCSE qualifications. It started to dawn on me that – maybe – I wasn’t so unfit for university after all.
Several years later, I visited my partner's graduation and degree show, which comprised of varied screen productions. I got to see how these students had used their creativity to express themselves and produce great pieces on screen. This had a powerful effect on me and confirmed that media was my passion. It was a huge decision financially and emotionally to apply to university, especially since I was already 26 years old at that time. However, I reckoned that I had to follow my academic dream. I completed the UCAS application and, against all odds, Goldsmiths offered me a place.
This year has opened up new ideas, different ways of thinking about the media, and overturned my assumptions about media power. I never heard about media theory before, and I was surprised how many of these new interesting insights linked with my own experiences. I’ve also had the opportunity to explore my creativity not only in photography, but also in radio, film, television, and video animation. The professors and teachers have been fantastic.
I am a Departmental Student Coordinator for my year (a paid position run through the Student Union), which means I sit in meetings with the academic staff and we talk about how to make the course even better. The staff really care about their students, and even offer a listening ear about personal matters. I've found them to be really approachable and they always take a genuine interest when they are speaking to you.
Finally, I must give credit to Goldsmiths for the help they give to their students. I applied for the Professor Stuart Hall scholarship and was awarded a financial bursary. This extra money will enable me to focus on my studies instead of working too many hours in a job, and for that I am very grateful. This scholarship has taken a burden off my mind.
Studying in London is not easy, but it is worth it in the long run, with so many opportunities here and so many different cultures to engage with. This year has cemented to me that I made the right choice in coming to Goldsmiths.