Published on 22 July 2019
Keiran Cull, 22, graduated with her degree in BSc Physiological Sciences at the University of Sunderland, and this September will begin training as a science teacher. Keiran has pursued her studies despite a difficult childhood and a life spent independent from her family.
She says: “My dad died when I was fourteen, and my mum’s mental health declined and she became an alcoholic. She decided she didn’t want a relationship with me or the rest of the family.
“At college I had to support myself financially, and worked full time at a care home, often doing 12 hour shifts on a weekend to pay my rent.”
With the support of her sister Keiran came to a University open day, and she immediately decided Sunderland was right for her.
“I knew the University had a good science department, so choosing Sunderland was easy for me. Though my time here has been a rollercoaster of emotions, the support I have received has been amazing.”
While studying Keiran received support with her dyslexia, but struggled financially in her first year, unaware that help was available, but a phone call to the University’s dedicated Estranged Student Support Team changed everything. Keiran received the University’s We Care Scholarship, which, from September, offers £2,000 a year, as well as one-to-one support, for care experienced young people.
“Having the financial support is very important, but the thing that really matters to me is having someone there offering me support,” says Keiran. “Having someone to talk to is so important to me. Knowing that there’s someone there when I feel down, or I’m doubting myself, or I’m struggling with work, it means everything to me."
Now Keiran is planning the return to Sunderland in September to train as a teacher on the PGCE Science and Biology course.
Keiran adds: “I chose to come to university because I always thought I could do more. I was always told I couldn’t, but I want to prove I’m intelligent, though people have told me all my life that I’m not. I’m here, and I’m still going.
“I believe I can do it, and I’m going to prove that I can.”