Humans of LJMU
As we celebrate our Bicentenary this year, we are celebrating the Humans of LJMU who make our city, communities and university the vibrant, inclusive place that it is.
Last week over 6,000 students graduated from LJMU in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral and as part of the Human’s of LJMU series we profiled three different graduates to hear their unique stories...
“When I first moved here from Romania, I didn’t speak a word of English and I didn’t know anyone. My mum didn’t want me to leave but I wanted a better quality of life for and more opportunities, I wanted to give it a go. I got a job in a coffee shop and started to learn English alone at home. It was really difficult, but I think it helped me grow much faster as a person. I had the equivalent of A Levels in Romania but needed to pass an English test to have the chance to study at university. Studying for this gave me time to think about what I wanted to do.
I had a customer who was a police officer who would come in every day. We talked all the time and became friends - I would ask him questions about the job and find out about the cultural differences here. He always looked very professional, and he was very kind, and I thought, I want to be like you. He was an inspiration. The police are very different back home, this made me see them differently.
When I passed my English test, I decided to study policing in Liverpool, as LJMU has a very good reputation for this. In my first year I was quite nervous as my lecturers were all previously police officers and I was coming from a culture where we fear the police. I thought, how am I going to challenge them when I know they were inspectors in the police. But I did it.
I wasn’t sure at first whether I could do it because of my English but I spent thousands of hours in the library and I achieved a first. I’m so glad that I never gave up. I won quite a few awards, for student ambassador of the year, for my dissertation and it’s contribution to practice, for leadership and I was selected from my course to go to Norway to study cybercrime.
About a year ago, I was working in custody and a guy who was the same age as me came in. We were both in the same place but in different situations. He was there because he was arrested for something he’d done and I was there as a police officer. It just hit me, I thought, that could have easily been me. It made me think back to the choices I made and what could have been different. I felt grateful that I’d tried to strive to be a good person and do the right thing, but at the same time it helped me to understand him - because you never know what he’s been through, maybe he was just in the wrong places at the wrong time. I saw him as a human being, not just for what he’d done.”
“When I told my mum my grade the other day, she burst out crying. I managed to get a first, and she was overwhelmed with pride. My family have been amazing throughout my degree, I owe them a lot. I was diagnosed with dyslexia in my second year, and my mum would sit with me and read things out or just listen to me and point out things that I wouldn’t spot.
My mum has been through a lot. She’s a very strong woman, and the way she’s bounced back from so many things has driven me on. She didn’t have the opportunities I’ve had growing up. Her mum and dad were very sick, so she was a full-time unpaid carer when she was younger. That’s made me not want to waste any of the opportunities I’ve had and to work hard to make her proud. She’s always been the one to say it doesn’t matter if you don’t get it; it’s not the end of the world. But wanting to make her proud has always pushed me on that little bit further.
During uni, I was diagnosed with a degenerative disease that causes issues with memory and conversation, giving me brain fog. My medical diagnosis shook me more than I thought because I went from viewing myself as invincible ( as you typically do as a young person) to discovering my own mortality and realising it’s not going to be as easy as it is for everyone else. That, coupled with my dyslexia diagnosis, made me actually even prouder of my achievement, as I’ve managed to get to where I am in spite of those things.
If I could go back and speak to myself at the start of university, I would say don’t be so hard on yourself, believe in yourself and enjoy it a bit more. I’d waste so much time worrying about the result, but I’d always get a good mark because I’d worked hard. You have to enjoy yourself.”
“I really can’t put into words how much I love this place and how much it’s done for me. Being at this university has completely transformed me as a person. I’m quite an anxious individual, so moving from a smaller school community to a university setting was quite a big step for me and quite a scary one. Doing that during COVID made it even more difficult. When we then returned to in-person in second and third year I really came out of my shell. I think university provided that safe space for me to grow. The LJMU community has made me feel so welcome and valued.
I think a lot of students face similar challenges- I’m not the only one. My advice for those students similar to me would be to try and approach every day with a smile. Some days will be tough, but if you try to look out for one another, you’ll be okay.
There’s good all around you. Always reach out for help If you ever need it, and just know that you belong in this community, we’re here to welcome you in. There are a lot of people here who will support you, and not just lecturers, there’s so many like-minded people to relate to and connect with that feel the same way as you. Even if it might take a bit of time to find the right help, don’t stop trying.
In my third year, I got a job working at the careers desk at the uni. That empowered me to be able to help others to deal with their stress and anxiety. I’m proud of my academic achievements, but helping others has been my biggest achievement here. Working on the desk, I’ve managed to support so many on their journeys, helping them through some tough times. I’ll be working there from September, and I’m looking forward to continuing to give back to the community.
It’s a cliché but one of the things that I am a believer in is to ‘just keep swimming’ as Dory says. When I’m in work supporting students, I always say, ‘Sometimes things look bad, then poof! The moment is gone. And what do we do? We just keep swimming on!’ It’s simple, but it’s true. If we can help that moment to go away for that person, then that’s a huge win. The best part is seeing their faces when they get the job they wanted or their stress has been taken off of them.”
Our Humans of LJMU series will continue throughout 2023, so keep an eye on the LJMU social channels.