Five things I learnt at University
Words by Natalie Haydon-Yeung (Law, 2012)
University was undoubtedly some of the best and most challenging times of my life!
A Summer School taster week when I was 17 first ignited my passion for university and a Nottingham Potential scholarship helped make sure that I could say yes when I was offered a place to study law.
Today, I’m a family law solicitor, helping clients with various family matters– some in very vulnerable positions – and I want to say thank you for helping me get where I am today. Here are five things I learnt from my time at Nottingham.
I lived in: Broadgate Park (first year), Lenton (second and third year)
My job today: Solicitor
The best place to go in Nottingham: Anywhere that has food… Tapas…Bar Iberico!
My favourite place on campus: Trent Building
My favourite film: Anything Disney!
The advice I would pass on: Maximise your opportunities, whatever they may be
The three words which best describe me are: Loyal, friendly, hardworking.
1. Embrace a new perspective
University is a unique time for discovering who you are. I went to Summer School feeling petrified that I wouldn’t fit in or wasn’t good enough but I quickly realised that I was not alone – others shared the same concerns and worries. This support helped me to believe in myself and when I started university, I loved being surrounded by new people and new ideas. All the trivial things from school that were so important before became less significant.
2. Unleash your potential – but know where to draw the limits!
I pushed the boundaries of what I could learn academically and discovered I could do more than I ever thought.
I also grew as a person, becoming more independent and trying new things. Knowing when to focus and take a break is also key – especially with a demanding subject like law and so many exciting opportunities to get involved in. Late nights and early lectures are not a happy mix!
3. Don’t be afraid to ask for support
My parents ran a Chinese restaurant and a takeaway but my father passed away when I was 12.
I was always worried about my mum and our finances. We talked about me becoming a lawyer but I always fretted about the cost. I got a paper round, worked as a waitress and then as a sales assistant – I felt like I was 17 going on 30! My scholarship was just fantastic – you can’t begin to imagine how much peace of mind this financial support gave me and my family.
4. Giving back feels great
As someone who benefited so much from the Summer School programme, I volunteered to be an ambassador and eMentor.
In 2012, I was awarded Mentor of the Year for the support I had given to potential students from disadvantaged backgrounds. They didn’t need me to tell them they were clever enough, they just needed encouragement from someone like them, who understands the challenges they face. Helping young people to believe in themselves is an amazing feeling.
5. University is for life
I got married in April last year surrounded by my university and Summer School friends.
University opened the door to a career I love and gave me experiences I’ll never forget, shared with people who will be part of my life for decades to come. Thank you for making this dream future a reality for me.
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