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Lauren

graduation - me (3)

Lauren

I have always really loved education; however, I had a really hard time at school with being bullied and going through some really difficult times. These bad experiences gave me the drive to pursue further education in hope to gain better experiences! I made the decision to go to the University of Suffolk due to living locally and finding the course that I was passionate about. For someone suffering with anxiety, I knew I did not want to travel or move away from home to have the University experience, therefore the University of Suffolk was my first and only choice (and I am so glad it was)!

I started my university experience in Events Management with a passion for weddings. The Events Management course had supportive, engaging, and knowledgeable lecturers which made my university experience all the better! I met loads of new people and made lots of friends throughout my undergraduate degree. Due to my passion for the wedding industry, I volunteered with wedding planners and got involved with wedding fairs to further my experiences, which was encouraged by my lecturers. The work experience that I gained throughout my degree was something I was so proud of achieving, especially through my times of struggle.

Whilst I was at university, there were times that I struggled with my mental health. I was fortunate enough to find out about the University’s mental health facility that offers six free counselling sessions a year. I put myself forward for the counselling and as soon as I heard back I started the sessions. The sessions offered by the University were so helpful for me. I connected so well with my matched counsellor, so much so that I now have private counselling sessions with her.

I was on my final year of my degree, completing my Dissertation and that’s when COVID-19 hit. This was a huge dilemma for students and lecturers as we all had no experience with the online learning and many of us were already halfway through our Dissertations doing primary research. From March 2020 – July 2020 we were online and had no access to the library, face to face lectures, seminars, or tutorials. Being the first ever year in history to be hit with a pandemic halfway through our final year, in the middle of doing our Dissertations was huge! It was highly panicking, and we were officially the trial runs for any sort of online classes. Fortunately, the University of Suffolk lecturers were incredible. The support given was amazing and there was a total understanding for any struggles due to us being the Guinea pigs for constant online lessons and tutorials.

Alongside COVID-19, trying to support my mental wellbeing, doing various voluntarily work, a part time job and my university work, I felt challenged. However, my lecturers were always so supportive. Therefore, I managed to finish my undergraduate degree with not only a 1st level degree, but amazing experiences, both socially, academically, and professionally.

After finishing my undergraduate degree, COVID-19 did not put me off deciding to go and study my master’s degree. I felt lucky enough that I have different passions in various subjects, therefore I decided to apply for my master’s degree in Criminology: Crime and Victimisation. This was a huge step for me as it meant that I was starting off as a completely new student again, with no friends and not knowing anybody again. Luckily, the University of Suffolk has a new starters Facebook page which I posted in to see if I could connect with anyone that was feeling the same. I then found a couple of people who were also doing the same course as me which gave me a massive confidence boost as we chatted over the summer before we started the course in September. Alongside this, I also met a woman named Jess who is now my best friend! I feel incredibly fortunate that the University has these platforms so that students can make new friends.

Although I decided that the wedding industry was not for me, the University was an encouraging environment for me to go deeper into my other passions. I loved the idea of using my events management degree to possibly work for a charity on events. I am currently coming to the end of my master’s degree in criminology, and I just started my new job role as a Community Engagement Manager at Volunteering Matters (a local charity). I felt so delighted getting my new role and I strongly believe that if I did not make the choice to go to the University of Suffolk, I would not be where I am today. I feel amazed that through my dedication, hard work and University support I am exactly where I want to be. I am the happiest I have ever been, and I feel so proud of all that I have achieved.

Studying in the middle of the pandemic of course came with its own challenges for students and for the lecturers, however, I feel like if the graduates of 2020 can do it with no experience of a pandemic, then anyone should feel it is achievable! I have achieved so much throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, things that I thought would be impossible achievements, but here I am with nearly 2 degrees and a dream job.

“ When I thought I could not achieve the impossible, I made the impossible possible and made it into my reality. “

For my future plans, I aim to further study with a PHD so that I can continue with my love and passion for education, and of course… I aim to do this at the University of Suffolk so I can continue to have the amazing support offered!

I would strongly advise any individuals thinking of joining the University of Suffolk to do so! It is an incredible University and I feel like that shows through my passion to keep coming back and study further. The University of Suffolk made me, and I am so fortunate that it did.

#UniSuffolkMadeMe