Today we got to chat with a 1st year student who has already taken advantage of a whole host of different activities & services that BCU has to offer. Let’s go & hear about her inspiring story!
Hi Madii, it’s great getting to chat with you today! Can you tell us what year you’re in & what course you study?
"Hi everyone, firstly I want to say a huge thank you to grad + for giving me this opportunity to share a bit of my experience with you. Presently, I am a 1st year undergraduate student at Birmingham City University, on the LLB Law with Criminology course.”
What first got you interested in starting your Graduate+ award with us?
“Grad + really stood out to me when I first heard about it during a talk in my Criminal Law lecture. This is because it took me back to before I started university, when I completed the International Baccalaureate Diploma rather than A-levels. As a requirement of passing the diploma, you had to complete 150 hours of creative, service and active hours (CAS). Consequently, I started playing tennis, getting involved with helping out at open days, sports days, events around college and students that needed extra support.
As a result of completing CAS, it really impacted my learning in a positive way because it’s not just about turning up to university/college, writing notes and studying. For me, it’s about enjoying the experience as well as shining your personality and this is what Grad+ is all about - meeting new people, getting involved with the BCU community and learning new skills which all contribute to turning your experience at university from great to amazing!”
How many of the award levels have you completed and how long did it take you to achieve these?
“I have completed the bronze, silver, gold and platinum award levels. This took me around 4 months to complete (From September 2019 – January 2020) because I was constantly engaging myself in volunteering work and just doings things around the university that I love doing (blogging, vlogging, joining societies etc.) without having to “break a sweat”. However, I hadn’t got round to documenting it on my Grad+ award until now, during lockdown. I was already completing my award before I had actually known about Grad+.”
We heard that you’ve created your own BCUSU society? Can you tell us a little more about this?
“My passion for Criminology stems from watching Dr Elizabeth Yardley on my TV screen. I am always inspired by how articulately she portrays the effects of a crime and the work that she does involving homicide which gave me the incentive to start our journey as the Criminology Society.
I think that BCUSU is an integral part of the University for students to be able to feel part of the BCU community. I felt that our passion for criminology as students and staff also needed to be promoted through the society that did not exist before my arrival. Therefore, Bilal (President 2020-2021) and I started running the society alongside our studies.
Our meetings are fortnightly-based. Before our sessions, our committee discusses a theme to follow for our meeting. So far, our meetings have been based on serial killers, blogging criminology and forensics. Moreover, our members also won the BCUSU quiz loft which is an amazing achievement to begin with.
Our society dynamic is very diverse and we all have a passion for Criminology which is reflected in the work we have done so far and will continue to do. We are not just a society for students but a society who appreciate the work staff do as well. Therefore, we approach staff to get them more involved in our work and meetings so that it’s not just me doing all the talking. I, personally love having staff in our meetings to share their knowledge and experiences with us. Moreover, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Sarah & Natasha for their contribution in launching our society in Jan 2020. In addition, the society is an asset in engaging with the amazing work that we all do in different departments like Psychology and Law.”
You also told us you’ve done work with the law clinic within BCU? Tell us about what you got up to during this time?
“The BCU Law clinic gave me an opportunity to work as a volunteer at Support Through Court at the Birmingham County Court, during November 2019.
My role was to help solve client’s issues without giving legal advice. Obviously, this varied depending on the different clients and their different needs of support. I made sure that clients received the right forms required for their claims; clients were being referred to other agencies when needed and I tried to explain civil procedures correctly.
Fulfilling everyone’s needs is tough as you don’t have the knowledge to deal with every issue that people come to you for. Some clients came to me to sort out their gas bill problems or divorce papers which I have no experience or knowledge about. However, I always put on a confident facade and reassured them that I was doing everything I can for them.”
You told us that outside of university you’re also a tennis coach! This sounds exciting, tell us more about what your role involves?
“Being a part-time level 1 tennis coach was a coincidental opportunity that came my way during CAS (Feb 2019). I started becoming very passionate about playing tennis and keeping fit which my tennis coach, Ambrus recognised. Therefore, I was offered the opportunity to complete my level 1 tennis qualification.
As a level 1 tennis coach, I assist Ambrus in making sure that all our sessions together run smoothly and our players are always learning new skills through the drills and games that we do on court. Before our coaching session, we organise all the equipment and use our free time to talk about Law and Criminology. In essence, Criminology doesn’t really leave me on court and is a huge part of who I am and this is reflected in all my experiences.”
If you had to give advice next year to new students regarding their Graduate+ award, what would you say?
“Completing your Grad+ award is an opportunity that not every student in the world has. Therefore, please take advantage of the amazing opportunities that come your way. Your time at university will be amazing, once you get to meet new people and just try out new experiences. Obviously, you should study hard as well but actually having the hands-on experience is quite essential in building up your work portfolio and attributes as a person.
Being pro-active and getting involved with Grad+ also will help you in terms of your future career. When I worked at Support Through Court, I realised that my interest was not in civil law but rather criminal law. This does not mean that you become complacent, but it means that you have a clearer path in your mind as to what career you want to go into.
Also, completing your Grad+ award early, can take a lot of stress away from your 2nd and 3rd year studies. Plus, you will definitely meet new people who may even become an integral part of your life; which happened to me.”
Finally, what does the future hold for you Madii? What are your next steps as you move into a new year?
“I am an over-ambitious student and love doing everything that I can get stuck into. As I move on, I will continue to be an active member of the Criminology Society whilst seeking new ventures as the Treasurer of the Disabled Society and BAME Officer of the Women’s Society.
In terms of my Law with Criminology degree, I will be applying to become a magistrate which I intended to do this year but was not able to pay two visits to the magistrate court due to the pandemic. As well as, getting involved with new Criminology staff in their research and projects.”
Well, if Madii’s story doesn’t motivate you to begin your Graduate+ journey with us we don’t know what will! Madii is only in her 1st year, and has proven just how much can be done, both inside and outside of university. We can’t wait to see what else she achieves during the next 2 years with us at BCU. If you’d also like to speak with us and share your story you can do so by emailing the team at email@example.com or messaging us via social media.