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Jake Lewis

Sunderland, UK

BA (Hons) Childhood Studies

Before coming to university, Jake Lewis had been in and out of work in various jobs as a call centre advisor and teaching assistant. Having gone into care at 13 and being hospitalised with bacterial meningitis, he failed his GCSEs. Through sheer determination and after the birth of his child, he enrolled in an Access course with Sunderland College and now finds himself studying BA (Hons) Childhood Studies, where he hopes to give vulnerable children and young people a voice.

I chose to study at the University of Sunderland due to it being close to home, the friendly atmosphere, the expertise of the academics and the We Care team.

Before I came to university, I was in and out of work as a call centre advisor and teaching assistant. I wanted a job that would allow me to help others who were in situations I'd also found myself in. I went into care at 13 and I'd been in hospital for a few months with bacterial meningitis, which left me with a tremor in my right hand and issues with my speech and understanding. I struggled through school, eventually failing all my GCSEs, and just coming out with a BTEC in Applied Science. The school said I could resit, but that didn't happen. I went on to do multiple college courses as I knew I wanted to work with children. I had several social workers with just one discussing the idea of university with me.

I began working as I had a child and my mental health was struggling. I then enquired at Sunderland College about going to university and they allowed me to join an Access course in order to get in. Despite leaving school with no GCSEs and being thrust into the care system, I worked hard, and even after being diagnosed with PTSD and EUPD, here I am at university.

The We Care team have been fantastic, making sure I receive everything I'm entitled to, giving me advice on all sorts of issues and giving me feedback on how to approach my assignments. I also receive a bursary of £2,000 a year, split across four instalments of £500, which has been a fantastic help.

I'd recommend the University of Sunderland to anyone. Students are kept fully up to date on changes regarding assignments and health and safety guidelines, and the staff and other students are supportive and friendly.

My advice to prospective students would be, don’t focus on 'can't' or people who might say you're not good enough. Whether you left school with 10 GCSEs or (like me) none, if you are determined, you can succeed.

My future career aims are to work in social services, assisting children and young adults in need and making sure that children have more of a voice on their own path."

Published 16 February 2021

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