Tell us a little about your heritage…
I personally class myself as being mixed raced, I was born and raised in Germany, however, I am also half Greek and half Sudanese. Although, I am not German by blood, it is a part of my cultural heritage and I do feel I am a German native as I was born there. All three ethnicities as well as their different cultures can be seen in my day-to-day life, and history so, I don't exclude one or the other; I am simply all three.
What course or qualification did you study?
A ‘BSc (Hons) Design and Innovation with Environmental Science' degree.
What inspired you to start studying at the Open University (OU)?
Being able to study from home, as I am a single parent of two kids, and to help my family as much as I can. Therefore, I wouldn’t be able to attend a brick uni.
How did you find the study experience at the OU?
- Did you have any positive (or Ah-ha!) moments that motivated you to persevere?
- Did you find any aspect particularly challenging?
I had good and bad experiences throughout my three years of study (I studied full-time) with the OU. I had some amazing tutors that were very supportive, as I am not a native English speaker and never finished school, which my tutors knew. I especially had a very good experience during my second year of doing my design modules. The tutor I had wanted to help his students to do good and it showed in our work – my grades were excellent then.
However, with good comes also some bad experiences, which was saddening, as I was getting top marks and was working to a high level, but I encountered a tutor that wasn’t very supportive. This knocked my confidence in my studies and made me second guess if I had chosen the right topic of study. This continued right to the end of my degree.
What were the community and representation like? Did you feel the OU & Association represented you and your heritage fairly?
At the start, I had no idea that there was a Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community or BAME tutors at the OU. It was not until my second year that I found that there was a group for people like me. I don’t think that the OU represents the BAME community to its fullest – I also don’t think the OU Student Association does it too well either. I think, if it wasn’t for the BAME Students Group, I would have been very isolated from other students, as I didn’t have very much in common with those on my modules.
What one thing would you encourage (1) the OU and (2) the Association to do more of, to help (more) students like you study here and feel a part of the community?
I don’t think it should be separate advice, as both should be working together to help students. For me, representation is a big thing, and more events to help the BAME community to come out of their shell would help. Once students are encouraged more, they will start voicing their concerns more.
What's next for you (eg, do you have any plans for after your course or module ends)?
I have just completed my degree with an Upper Second Class qualification! I hope to continue to studies, now that I am finished with my undergrad. I would like to do my Master's and then a PhD!