This week I was asked to give a few presentations to some students in regards to my time at their establishments and my paths to and from there. I am not the best at public speaking, but it was an honour that I was asked back in order to give these presentations.
After thinking it over, I decided not to sugar coat life in education. I was going to tell my story honestly.
See the presentation here and read on for my what I had to say
Back in 2009 it was the year where we had our options at high school. Before we were allowed to submit our forms, we had to take various quizzes and listen to various assemblies and pitches by teachers. I seriously did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up let alone knew what I wanted to take as options when I was barely 13. At the time, I was also in the more able and gifted and talented group and there were certain expectations.
In the end I decided to keep up with Mandarin Chinese as an extra curricular, due to excelling in languages, but as part of my options chose applied French, triple science and an art and design BTec. I decided to keep it broad as I didn’t want to suddenly wake up one day and have a revelation as to what I wanted to be and it not have anything to do with the courses I studied.
My options were also based on what I did outside of school. I was a part of the engineering club for example, so I knew I liked physics and mathematics. The other side though was that I loved cooking. To myself however there was no way in my brain, at the time where I could fathom how to mix everything I loved to make a final outcome.
In early 2010, I undertook a foreign exchange to Chateauneuf, Limousin, in France. I wanted to feel what it was like when you applied knowledge, especially in the subjects I wasn’t to in to. For myself though, this is where my life took a turn.
On the flight back I fell ill and over the following months had many bereavements. For this reason I missed out on a lot of school. On my return, because I was so far behind, having missed a good few months, and not being able to manage a full week at school, I was placed in social exclusion. Most teachers did not have the time to help me catch up, so I spent most of the remaining time at high school, around a year and a half, self directing my own learning.
This shook me, as it would any person. I lost a few friends a long the way as I couldn’t go out with them like everyone else and I could not go to class with them. I felt like I had missed so much. My self confidence and my social skills seemed to diminish every day I was in social exclusion and was off sick.
With the knowledge that most of what I had learnt had come from books and BBC Bitesize, I felt, for the first time in a long time, that I needed a safety net. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do at sixth form, or even if I would get into sixth form. Regardless, I applied to do economics, English language, graphic design and maths with statistics. My back up was a BTec in public services as I knew it would lead me straight into a job as it was practical and allowed for hands on experience.
Come results day, I almost had a heart attack. I decided to brave it and go without my parents to pick up my GCSE results. Somehow, miraculously, I had managed to receive 14 GCSE’s with 11 of them being either A*’s or A’s. The rest bar one were B’s and I got one C. My BTec I got a triple distinction*. I was over the moon. It brought with it so much self confidence back.
I decided to go to college to do my A levels, but it was difficult to re-immerse myself in a class room setting again. It took a lot of support and a few weeks, but I managed it. When you know you want something, you will do anything in your power to get it. For me, this included asking for help. For me, asking for help was the most humbling thing I ever did. I was always a person who would never ask for help and just attempt to do something.
Due to the amazing support I received, I got into University. From being ill for so long and going through some very rough times, I decided that art and design would no longer be a form of escapism. Life was too short. I needed to make it into something, something for myself. A degree in graphic design seemed like the perfect option as it mixed my academic side with my love of art. The University of Huddersfield offered a broad course and allows us to learn about everything from theory and business to how to use certain software and how to create things.
University, I feel has and still is helping me so much in both my education and potential career prospects to myself as a person. I have learnt so much about myself from living away from home. Not only have I learnt how to budget and so on, but I’ve also met some amazing people who I know will do great in life. I have immersed myself with a great friendship group and have had many opportunities both in and out of university.
I look to the future with great hope and prospect, and can only hope that the stress that I have been through as both a student and person have been worth it. I feel prepared to graduate either next year or the year after, according to whether I get a placement. I feel prepared for the world of employment. Most of all, I feel prepared to face life as it comes. I am stronger today than I was all those years ago, and I know that all I need to do is ask for help and attempt to knock on doors.