Today we meet a final year student who has had a pretty interesting ride over the past 3 years – from facing her fears to finding new confidence! Let’s go & meet Aksa Saleem…
Hi Aksa, it’s lovely having the chance to speak with you today! Please tell us the course you’re studying & a little bit about what a typical day looks like for you?
“For me it varies. I usually have a lecture for an hour and then a practical lab for 2 hours afterwards, a lot of the work is independent but there is always people around to help, most of the time is spent on Level 4 in Millennium Point just doing work and simulations from the labs that we have learnt.”
How many of our award levels have you completed and at what time did you achieve these?
“I have achieved all my awards now, so that’s Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. I got my certificate in my second year for Bronze award (May 2018), just before I went on placement. Whilst I had just started placement, I achieved my Silver (July 2018). As I was coming to the end of my placement I completed my Gold award in June 2019. This year in May 2020 I received my final Graduate+ Platinum certificate.”
You told us you completed both our glass & fire walks, these always prove popular during Grad+ weeks! What was it like walking over fire & glass?
“This was an amazing experience. It’s like going on a roller-coaster after so long, all the nerves and the adrenaline building up like scaring you, to find out it’s not as scary as it looks. My dad wasn’t too happy because he thought it would be dangerous, but it is something I like doing, so like being adventurous and just taking opportunities when I get them. My parents were actually so proud when I had done it, because it was something no one would do in my family.”
We know you’ve also represented both the university & your faculty as a student ambassador. Tell us about the different experiences you’ve had?
“I have been part of a number of experiences, I have had the ability to speak alongside the vice chancellor and Sir Lenny Henry for potential students at open days, which has helped me during my presentations for interviews and final year. I have met and discovered aspects of the university I didn’t think I ever would, these are experiences such as working for different schools and departments not just the school I am part of. I have also had the chance to visit other campuses to see what work students do across the university. I have travelled abroad with friends, spontaneously. So these are people I’d never met and just went abroad with them. It’s been an amazing 4 years!”
Out of all of your BCU experiences, what has been your favourite & what have you gained from this?
“Self-Confidence is key for me, I have come out my shell, a lot more than I expected. I mean, I have always been outgoing, I have always been the outgoing bubbly person, however since starting uni it’s made me become more confident than I usually am. I’ve gone on holidays, met random people, gone on different trips, been part of different faculties doing crazy things at uni like the fire walk, the glass walk, making sure that I've gone out my comfort zone a bit more than I had doing presentations in front of loads of people and the more I got used to it the more I could do it, and now when I go to interviews I feel a lot more confident than I would.”
If you had to give advice to a new 1st year student about starting their Grad+ award, what advice would you give them?
"The Grad+ award basically enables you to come out of your comfort zone just like it has with me, it enables you to explore and make you the better person that you are within yourself. For example, when I go to interviews I actually speak about my experiences. For the job I’ve just secured that starts in September they asked us to tell them one fun fact about yourself and I mentioned that I've walked on broken glass and I walked over hot coals and they just looked at me like whoa and I believe it is something that brings it out in you and I've got certificates to prove as well. It’s not just you verbally saying statements to an employer, it’s the evidence you get as well so I think that's one thing I would say just always go above and beyond from what you can because you can do what you want to do there's no one to stop you.”
What was the best part about being involved in Grad+ for you & why?
“Best part about being involved in Grad+ for me was being able to show what I'm really capable of because as I mentioned when you go to an interview and I've done loads of these now, it's not just an interview for how you are like educationally or intellectually they generally want to see you as a person, and at assessment centres they want to see you as an individual, they want to see your personality come out so I think that's what Grad+ has helped me do and has enabled me to bring out my personality. I honestly can’t thank Grad+ enough for helping me to come out my shell.”
Finally, what are your next steps? We’ve heard you’ve been successful in landing a graduate job for September… tell us more!
“I have secured a job in Brighton, I feel excited as well as scared as this will be the first time in 22 years that I’m moving away from home. I am looking forward to starting a new opportunity and being able to discover myself more as an individual as I am already independent but living alone will be different.”
Wow, what a super productive & interesting journey Aksa has had during her time at BCU, it’s wonderful to hear how beneficial the Graduate+ experience has been to her time with us too. If you’d like to share your story with us we’d love to hear from you! Email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org & we will get back to you.