Hi, my name is Hamza and I am currently a graduate intern within the widening participation team at the University of Manchester. As an undergraduate, I studied Law with Criminology. Over the course of my degree, I developed a strong interest in helping the wider community through volunteering as a student advisor in the University’s legal advice centre and as a student ambassador. As a student advisor, my role was to prepare case files, speak to clients from the local area over the phone, interview these clients and draft letters of advice for them.
As an ambassador, I was able to work on the University’s widening participation initiatives, the Gateways Programme, Greater Manchester Higher and the Manchester Access Programme (MAP). These schemes were aimed at increasing progression to university from particular underrepresented demographics (e.g. Young people from low income households). My role as an ambassador was to facilitate activities for these students on campus and really engage with them, in order to raise their aspirations.
Alongside being a student ambassador, I also used to work with the Donor Relations team at the University. I would meet regularly with donors and prospective donors- to talk about my experiences at the University of Manchester and how the MAP scholarship I was receiving helped me during my undergraduate studies. I was more than happy to express my gratitude for the scholarship and meet with donors, especially if there was even a slight chance that a prospective donor would consider donating a gift which would benefit the future generation of MAP students.
A combination of both these experiences have led to me to my current role as an intern in one of the widening participation programmes that I worked on as an ambassador, the Manchester Access Programme (MAP). My role involves monitoring and communicating with students who are on the programme but also to plan and run large scale events for students to attend on campus. I also deliver presentations regularly, write pieces for the University website and manage teams of student ambassadors on these event days.
So why is Widening Participation something that I am really passionate about? Well, it’s because I came through the same programme that I now work on, MAP, as a student. I was given a chance to come on to the University of Manchester campus and take part in various activities- from Academic writing workshops, Research, Revision and Referencing workshops, Personal Statement support and the opportunity to attend a University Life Conference (which involved delivering a group Enquiry Based Learning presentation during the day and an option to spend the evening in the University’s Halls of Residences).
MAP made me realise that progressing on to higher education was not a distant dream. It gave me the confidence to actually believe that I was capable and deserving of a place at university. It is no surprise to see that I now currently hold a role where I get the opportunity to help other students who were like me. I understand the barriers that students face as I have faced them myself. Having the chance to be involved in a programme which is attempting to level the playing fields and give students, who have the ability to succeed at university, that extra support that they need is something that I am extremely passionate about.
In terms of the future, I am still unsure as to where it is I will end up. The option to pursue Law is still there at the forefront of my mind but with my current role, the idea of engaging with young people and raising aspirations is something which has become increasingly attractive as a potential alternative route. What is for certain however is that I want to continue to help those who may be less fortunate and come from similar backgrounds to myself, as I wholeheartedly believe that everyone deserves an opportunity- once you have been given an opportunity, it is up to you to pass it forward to someone else.
http://www.access.manchester.ac.uk/ useful link to the widening participation schemes the university of Manchester run- Can check eligibility for each programme on the webpage!
http://documents.manchester.ac.uk/display.aspx?DocID=4294 Might be slightly text heavy and aimed at an older audience but really useful to see all the work and statistics behind WP!