Student Stories

Student Stories

Jemima - Student care leaver

Welcome to Hallam! Take a breath and congratulate yourself for securing a place, despite it all you are here!!

The next three years are going to be a roller coaster, but I’m sure you are going to love Sheffield as much as I do.

My name is Jemima and I studied at Sheffield Hallam for 3 years (Illustration) and obtained a DipHE in 2019. I’m originally from Doncaster, and was in care. If I have learnt anything it’s that no ones care/estranged story is the same. Each comes with their own challenges and battles, and their is no ‘fits-all instructions’ on how to manage your home situation. It’s important to remember not to compare your story to others at University. It can be hard hearing a fellow student talking about their family, and I struggled myself with how to handle those difficult conversations.

Your story is YOURS. It’s yours to share only if you wish. Just because someone seems to have it easy, we all have our battles. You got your place at university, and you climbed a pretty steep mountain to get here. When I felt lost hearing about other peoples parents (coming to visit, sending care packages etc) I tried to remember someone else’s candle burning bright did not affect mine.

I was so nervous when I came to University. I had a unique experience because I lived on my own for three years. If I could go back, I’d have made the effort to be more social and build my friendship group early on. Don’t feel pressured to go out all the time, but also showing your face on a Saturday night is a great way to bond with your new flat mates/course mates. This ones really important: manage your money! I was so terrible at this and it took me a long time to learn! Set a budget, even set up a second bank and transfer yourself a monthly allowance. Work out realistically what you spend on food and bills each month and go from there. It sets healthy habits for when you really are out there on your own with no student loan to fall back on.

This might be the first time you’ve had a lot of money at your disposal, and it is very easy to loose sight of what you’re spending.

The best thing about being a student at university is I learnt so much about myself. We all have a idea what we want for our future, but uni gives you the time to trial something completely different. I learnt a lot about what I actually wanted from life, where I wanted to live and who I wanted to be. And now I can take those steps to (hopefully) get there. Personally, I just want a good job that means I can afford a nice little place of my own and a dog!

If I could go back, I’d tell myself- ‘don’t be afraid to start over again. This time, you are not starting from scratch, you are starting from experience’

It is OKAY to reach out and ask for support when you need it. Especially as a care leaver, university does have its hard times but Hallam has a great team for care leavers who can and will be there when you need them. Google is also going to be your best friend! I felt like  lacked a lot of skills from not growing up in a ‘normal’ household. There’s so much advice and help out there than you can learn those ‘adult life skills’. There is always someone around to help, you just have to ask.

Good luck with everything!!

Kavina Jo - Estranged student

Hi to all first year university students! I hope you all thoroughly enjoy your first year, and that you get the most out of your course as you possibly can. The first few weeks of your course can be overwhelming, but you will soon settle in.

I am estranged from my biological parents, both my parents being incapable of taking care of me. However, this has made me want pursue a career in Social Work even more, as one of my aims is to show that children are just as capable of thriving in many other care giving settings, such as with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc – as just because a child may not have grown up within a stereotypical family home with two parents, does not make them any different to anyone else.

I am commencing the second year of my BA (Hons) Social Work degree in September (2019). I originally aspired to become a Solicitor, before realising that this was not the career that would play to my strengths, and subsequently decided to change direction – as I have always been deeply passionate about supporting individuals.

What advice would you give to new students who are coming to university for the first time?

I would advise all first year students to take notes in lectures – do not just rely on the PowerPoint Presentation slides! In addition, I would also advise to make use of the fantastic breath of resources here at Sheffield Hallam, as they will be vital when writing assignments or studying for exams.

I would also get involved with extra-curricular activities, both internally and externally, as this can help you to form friendships, enhance your professional skills, assist you in gaining valuable experience, or be an extra addition to your CV.

Most importantly, I would say ‘Embrace new opportunities and experiences!’.

What has been the best thing about being a student so far at university?

The best thing about being a student so far at the university has been the variety of topics studied as part of my course so far, and preparing to go out on placement.

What is your long-term ambition or goal in life?

My long – term ambition is to become a Social Worker.

I love that social work students are able to combine academic skills and practical work experience – as we are exposed to the variety of possible avenues that we could be practicing in due to the placements provided.

If you could go back and tell yourself one thing as a first year student, what would it be?

I would tell myself not to stress out over all the little assignments and exams – just focus on improving my academic writing / revision skills, in preparation for my future placements and career.

Bryony - Student Carer

Welcome to SHU! My name is Bryony and I’m currently a third year studying a BSc (Hons) Nursing (Adult). I’m a mature student but also a student carer who cares for two different family members for very different reasons. Being a student carer can sometimes impact my study but the support from Student Wellbeing and the student carer team is invaluable! I didn’t come to university straight from college as I had a difficult pathway through and studied an entirely different degree in Business and Management before starting Nursing. Everyone comes to university at different stages in their lives and it’s absolutely fine!

To new students joining SHU I would advise them to get involved in everything they possibly can! Become a Course or Department Representative, join a society or a sports team, get involved with freshers week and make some friends. SHU offers so many opportunities for students and during my three years I’ve been a Course, Department, Deputy Faculty and Academic Board Rep sitting in on panels and meetings and advocating for the student body at varying levels. I’ve also been lucky enough to be involved in the British Heart Foundation University of Lifesavers where I teach staff and students at the university the lifesaving skill of CPR! Also make use of the amazing library services that are available! Especially the skills centre sessions they are brilliant!

For me the best thing about being at university has been my own personal and professional development. I am a very different person to the one who started 2 and 1/2 years ago but I’ve changed for the better and I’m now much more confident in many aspects of my life.

My ambition in life is to be a Nurse Consultant in Emergency Care.

If I could go back and tell the 1st year version of myself something I would say don’t compare yourself to anyone either academically or in practice. Everyone’s journey is different and we all achieve things at different times. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses so embrace them positively.