My Story: From Birmingham to Bradford

Today’s blog comes from Shaz, a postgraduate student here at the University of Bradford, who describes the upheaval she faced when she relocated to Bradford, and the determination she showed to achieve academic success…

I was born in Birmingham in 1976; I spent 29 years of my life there. I was married at 16 years of age to my dad’s cousin and became a mom to four beautiful children. The decision to move came two years after my father was murdered in Pakistan. That was the hardest thing I had ever had to face, losing someone so close to me. At first I was very hesitant because I had never left Birmingham and I found it difficult to even think about leaving my mom. My husband found a four-bedroom house and we moved to Bradford. He assured me that everything would be fine and I would adjust quickly.

Through the years I settled; I started attending courses at the local school and made friends with a few of the ladies and the tutor. This was important to me because I felt really out of my comfort zone being away from my own family and friends. In 2008 I found an opportunity to go back to college and I started the Access course. My friends helped me to make time for me, going out for meals, going to the movies and doing things I enjoyed which I had never experienced before. I did the course for two years and it felt really good to be back doing something that I had a passion for. During the end of the course, my tutor advised all the class to apply for a university course. I wrote up my personal statement and submitted my application thinking no one would offer me a place, but to my shock I was the first applicant to be accepted onto the course.

My time at the University of Bradford began in 2011 and initially, I was in a panic, a mature student starting a course that I personally did not think I was good enough for. On joining the university I was diagnosed with having Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Dyscalculia, this helped me to understand why I had so many problems when I was younger and in school. I started placements, doing night shifts and day shifts and I truly loved every minute. I felt the move to Bradford had given me opportunities and experiences I probably could never have attained in Birmingham. I pushed myself even when things got difficult to show my children that anything is possible at any age. The course taught me so much but I ended up getting ill and was not able to complete the course. Several months after, I contacted the university and they told me I could join another course with my credits. I was short by 20 credits so ended up doing second year as a part time course and third year was full-time. I made new friends and really enjoyed the course; my lecturers were so supportive and understanding. They helped me and gave me a lot of words of encouragement and I graduated in July 2016 with a 2:1.

I recently came across a quote that has shown me that things can be achieved no matter what is thrown at you.

“You either get bitter or you get better. It’s that simple. You either take what has been dealt to you and allow it to make you a better person, or you allow it to tear you down. The choice does not belong to fate, it belongs to you”.

I have felt that life has dealt me so much but I have pushed myself to get further and achieve what I have wanted so badly. I was the first girl in my family to graduate and the day my children saw me in my gown and cap I felt so proud of what I had achieved. I always push my children to better themselves every day in what they do, if I can graduate from University at this age, they can achieve anything. My daughter is a second year nursing student and I watch her struggles and push her and encourage her as much as I can so that she knows no matter what,  I am proud of all she has achieved so far. My children make me proud every day and I live for them.

Through all I have overcome, I feel I have come a long way from when I was a teenage mother. I have graduated and now I am back at the University of Bradford doing a Postgraduate Certificate. I am moving forward to obtain a job in my chosen field with the help of this course. I want to inform others that yes it is hard with a family to go back into study but anything is possible. “If I can do it, anyone can”. I am grateful for my achievements, I have received support from some truly amazing people and I am very grateful to them. My lecturers, family and friends have helped me and pushed me even when I felt I could not go on.

Thanks Shaz, and don’t forget that if you need some advice, at Career and Employability Services we can help with your career planning for up to five years after graduation, so please feel free to get in touch.