Kelly, Hispanic Studies Student: Faculty of Arts Alumni Scholarship Awards Recipient

Kelly, a Hispanic Studies student and recipient of the Faculty of Arts Alumni Scholarship Award, shares how this has helped her.

Despite growing up around the colleges of beautiful, historic Oxford, I was raised on a council estate in a typically working-class family. I studied A Levels in psychology, sociology and german and started the process of applying to do an undergraduate degree in psychology, as this was a subject that fascinated me.

I then had a lost in confidence, wondering 'what is the point?' as I felt like I would never become a psychologist, a feeling that my parents shared. With a lack of support or encouragement I dropped out of college to get a ‘proper job’.

A series of mundane office jobs followed, and I have always felt a deep regret for not going to university. My real passion has always been languages, I enjoyed French and German at school then I went to live and work in Spain for a time, falling completely in love with the language and culture.

I attended Spanish evening classes and did online courses, but they were never very thorough or motivational. Also, as a single mum, I believed that going to university would only be possible if I won the lottery. 

Covid-19 and a change of direction

The turning point for me was Covid. After a year on furlough, I was made redundant and decided it was time that I found something I love!

Being at home in lockdown enabled me to research the opportunities available to me and I was pleasantly surprised to find that university was a realistic option for a person of my age. I decided to combine my lifelong dream of learning Spanish with a career in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, something I had been introduced to whilst working for a TEFL publisher in Oxford.

With my son now a teenager and more self-sufficient, I signed up to an Access course which I thoroughly enjoyed. For me, this is not just about the end goal of a career but enjoying the experience of learning new things and engaging my brain!

Choosing Nottingham

I chose Nottingham not only because it is commutable and offers Spanish for beginners, but also because they have a fabulous department dedicated to supporting mature students.

This has been invaluable to my journey, especially the ‘kickstart’ days where I met many people in similar situations. I also found WhatsApp groups and social events very helpful.

My lecturers are very supportive and I do not feel out of place with the teenagers at all. I have also joined the Hispanic Society, which gives me the chance to practice my Spanish with native speakers at the university.

For the family

I genuinely believe that the scholarship has helped me not only invest in my own future, but also my son's! He visits the campus with me during half term and hangs out in the café. He loves Nottingham and the student experience, and cannot wait until he is old enough to go to university himself.

The scholarship has made such an enormous difference that the biggest expense has been petrol for the commute. The funding has also relieved the stress of the cost-of-living crisis especially when I have sole responsibility for the mortgage and household bills. It was also a god-send when my laptop died in the middle of an assignment, and I had to buy a new one.