To celebrate Black History Month we are amplifying the voices of our black students, alumni, volunteers, and colleagues who are working hard to make higher education more accessible.

One such person is Betty. She spent four years on The Access Project and was tutored in Physics at GCSE and Maths at A level. Betty is now a second year student at the University of Birmingham, studying Geography. She is also one of our student ambassadors, and a peer mentor – helping first year students transition successfully into university.

“I always wanted to go to university because of my Mum”

Betty has always known she wanted to go to university. Her mum always wanted to go but never had the opportunity to do so. “She’s always motivated and inspired me and I’ve always wanted to make her proud and use my intelligence for the greater good.”

Betty also wanted to go to university to open as many doors as possible, as she wants to make use of any opportunity life gives her. She’s always aspired to have the success her uncle has, saying: “Going to university changed his life and I just want to be as successful as him”.

Betty’s journey to the University of Birmingham

Betty was supported with tutoring and mentoring at The Access Project. She really got on well with her University Access Officers. “They were both so nice. They were easy to talk to about anything. It didn’t have to be about anything related to The Access Project, they were just always happy to help.”

One of her University Access Officers recommended Betty go to a summer school at the University of Birmingham. She applied and went to the summer school and this helped her make the difficult decision of choosing which university to go to. “The Access Project is what put me into the University of Birmingham specifically,” Betty acknowledges. Betty’s A level tutor also went to the University of Birmingham and she also supported her with this decision.

Proud to be

Betty doesn’t believe that university is as diverse as she originally thought. “Perhaps people don’t apply because they don’t see themselves there,” she ponders. “Overall my experience has been good and the lectures are decent. One of my lecturers is an iconic black British woman so that is truly inspiring.”

The theme of this year’s Black History Month is Proud To Be and we asked Betty what she is proud to be. “I’m proud to be enjoying my time at university,” she told us. She lives with friends and she said that when she told them that university was “decent” they were shocked. “They said that I was the first person that has ever said that,” she laughs. “I guess I have a positive outlook on university.”