Thanks to Google…

For Lorena, her journey to become an OU student leader started with one internet search...

This is how my study journey started: by googling how to become a teacher. Back in the 90s (I am not that old, I promise you) my father did not let me go to university. I had to work. Several years later, and many jobs after… One day, during early summer 2018, I decided to have a look on the internet and there it was: The Open University. An organisation that was willing to take me on, without any GCSEs or A levels. I did not hesitate, did not care if I had to pay for my studies with a credit card. This was my chance.  

I signed up to start a BA (History). Prior to this day, I had never heard of the OU so before I started my degree in October 2018, I immersed myself in researching Student Home fully. I did multiple courses on Open Learn, I practised basic skills such as essay writing (I had never written an essay in English before. English is my second language). I looked at all the forums and began to interact with other students. I watched many, many recorded videos on Student Hub Live and I looked at the OU Student Association.

AA100 was a great way to start my degree. It caught my interest straight away. With the first TMA results, I had my first boost of confidence. Nothing was going to stop me. By early spring 2018, I had decided to apply for a place in Conference and what an experience that was!!! The OU campus at Milton Keynes was buzzing with students, all with so many different backgrounds and experiences. The weekend proved so inspirational that marked the beginning of my volunteering experience with the association. The following year, I had the opportunity to attend a Student Consultation, to be an observer at a Central Executive Committee weekend and to go to Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences assembly in Milton Keynes. Along with another two students, I helped at the Bath Engineering Residential School where we had an OU merchandise shop. Volunteering was proving a very rewarding experience and I am not going to lie here, so much fun.  

OU Students enjoy the sunshine at Conference 2018, on the Open University campus in Milton Keynes.

By the summer of 2019, I had realised that I wanted to be fully involved with the OU Student Association, so I applied for the role of Central Committee Representative. I was accepted. Now, I was looking at the OU from inside and I realised what an impact student voice can have within the university, the association and most importantly to student’s journeys. It was in one of these meetings that it was mentioned to me that I could/should apply for a role with the Central Committee Executive, otherwise known as the student leadership team. I can tell you something, the students from the team are one of the most committed people I have ever met. Their passion for helping other students is truly incredible. I came back home totally convinced to apply for a role. I, like the volunteers at the committee, wanted to help other students. I wanted to make an impact on their journeys. Furthermore, I wanted to share the opportunity that both the Association and the University had been given to me: the chance to study, to better myself, to gain confidence, to learn, to meet other students, to be able to have new experiences, etc. So, I began to look for a role that I would be able to do while working full time and studying. I did put a lot of thought into this as whatever I commit to doing, I will do.

So, here I am. I have been elected to be the Area Association Representative for Wales. I am thrilled and very excited and I can not wait to start. I understand that next year is going to be challenging. It looks like this pandemic is not going to go away any time soon but I have got faith and I know that nothing gets in the way of OU students and together we can beat this and come on the other side even stronger.

Thank you for reading and I will keep you updated. This is only the beginning… saying that… I will be doing my first level 3, in October. Oh, time flies while you are having fun…

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