I initially had doubts about whether I wanted to go to university. My uncle had gone, and I was the only one in my family to attend higher education. My grandfather implored I go, telling me to ignore the admittedly worrying costs at the time. I didn’t want to burden my family but it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity to enjoy your young adult life.
“When I arrived in Sunderland, fresh from a computing course, I started out in Computer Science. Within a few weeks I’d been contacted by the Care Leavers Support Team, who made sure I’d settled in and was ready to complete my studies without worry. I didn’t need them for help much in my first year but from first contact, I knew just how much was available to me if I needed anything. It almost felt like having a secret contact that no one had to know about, which was great.
“In my second year I decided to switch my course, moving to Digital Forensics. This was when the pressure really hit, and I hit a brick wall with little apparent recourse. Thankfully, the team schedules a yearly meeting as a contact point and I laid everything on the table. I was quite blown away at how quick they were to lay everything I could ever need at my feet, offering to arrange therapy sessions with the University’s other support services. Having that level of safety while doing such an intensive area of study was what really helped in pushing me into my final year.
"If I had to give anyone some advice about the University of Sunderland, it would be that while your tutors, teachers and other members of staff might put on a professional face in lessons, they’ll show you just how supportive they can be if you just ask to see them. I was terrified of my forensic tutor after I missed a few weeks of work until I spoke to the Care team and they spoke to him on my behalf. Suddenly, he understood how scared I was of the workload and I could finally talk to him without overthinking myself into a corner.
"Now in my final year, I’m hoping to graduate in mid-2018 and I’m keen to find work in the police force or other cybersecurity related jobs, which are expanding in the North East. Thanks to the Care Leavers Support Team, I’m in a far better mental state than I was in my second year."
Published 18 October 2017