Brave, resourceful and committed to her community are just some of ways people who know her describe special LJMU graduate Alexandra Bran.
Alexandra is believed to be the first person from the Roma community to attend university at LJMU.
After coming to the UK with nothing, she now has a BA in Human Resource Management, a job, conducts research for the university and is looking to start a family.
Moreover, she is a pioneer and inspiration for other Roma youngsters, who are the least likely of the BAME groups to aspire to higher education, just 3% access HE.
Alexandra, 24, arrived in the UK in 2015. speaking no English and facing a lot of challenges to finding work and a place to live.
But she says she came with big dreams and a sense of independence instilled by her mother: “She gave me a lot of confidence that I will achieve all my goals. “Romanian gypsy girls, they get married really young but my mother always told me that I didn’t have to do the same. I can do more than that.
The turning point perhaps was meeting two HR academics at Liverpool Business School (LJMU) Patricia Jolliffe and Helen Collins, architects of a community-based research project REAP, the Roma Education Aspiration Project.
Alexandra came into contact with the project via LJMU partner charity with Granby Toxteth Development Trust which also works to get more BAME youngsters into education.
Aspire to university
Explains Alexandra: “I always wanted to go to university, but due to the financial situation of my family I couldn’t got to university in Romania. One day, my cousin told me about project through which Roma could go to university in Liverpool and that they have an open-day and I went.
“After all three years spent at LJMU I learned a lot, from a professional point of view but also because I started to see the world differently, and this thanks to the lecturers I had, and specially Tricia, the one who guided me all this time.”
Alex is now one of the role models and mentors in Liverpool’s Roma community, using her own experience to give others a sense of worth, and conducting outreach research for the university.
“I am very proud that I can do that and at same time I can help my community in some way. I am very proud that I graduate with honours with 2.1 and now I want to have a happy family and build a career.”
-Alex graduated from LJMU on Monday, July 11, accompanied by her father, Remus and Patricia (see picture).