The OU changed my career prospects. It was the most positive thing I did and also the most difficult. I would do it all again if I could.
Gary was 14 when he left school to care for his mum. His education was severely impacted by these caring responsibilities and despite being capable, he left school without qualifications and entered the job market. A few years later, he attended a lecture with his partner who was studying Law at the University of Nottingham.
“I was hooked, that lecture totally inspired me and from that moment I was determined to get a degree myself. I researched how I could study Law without any qualifications and found the OU. It was the perfect solution so I signed up and I’m so glad I did.
“Studying gave me something else to occupy my mind and allowed time to focus on myself but because I needed to be home looking after my mum, I couldn’t attend the tutorials and found myself struggling. I would study while she slept and at weekends when family and friends would take her out. I found it very difficult during the first two years. I didn’t tell the OU about my situation because I was embarrassed and at the time, I was unaware of the extra support that I was entitled to.
“Despite these initial difficulties, I was resolute that nothing would stop me from achieving my ambition of becoming a Law graduate. I knuckled down, studied hard and in 2014 this determination paid off as I graduated with a Bachelor of Law (Hons). I am the first person in my family to attend university and considering the tough start I had to education and the fact I was caring for my mum the whole way through my degree, I am extremely proud of myself.”
He was awarded a prestigious scholarship, the Diversity Access Scheme, from The Law Society which aims to give access to the legal profession to those from backgrounds who would otherwise find it difficult. Since graduating with a Masters (LLM LPC) from Nottingham Trent University, he has worked in the legal sector as a Housing Paralegal at Derbyshire Law Centre and is actively seeking a training contract.
“This award paid for my Legal Practice Course (LPC), gave me the opportunity for work experience and an industry mentor. I have been able to use this to open doors and I sincerely believe that I would not have been awarded the scholarship if I had attended any other university than the OU.
“I have not allowed anyone or anything to hold me back. The OU not only changed my career prospects but it made me confident, articulate and allowed me to change my lifestyle. It has absolutely changed me and I was able to consider a career, rather than just a job.
“To those thinking of studying with the OU, I say to jump in with both feet and do not have any preconceptions or judgements. Choose a topic you are interested in and remember the OU is flexible, if you don’t like the area you are studying, you can change it. Do not be scared if you do not have A-levels or even GCSEs (I didn’t) and most of all have fun! Take it from me, when you graduate you will miss it, I do every day.
“My experience was the best. I found a university that fitted me and accepted me for my abilities, rather than what qualifications I had. It was the most positive thing I did and also the most difficult; I would do it all again if I could.”