In our day-to-day role as University Access Officers, we work closely with students in their schools: mentoring, counselling, teaching and emailing. Helping them to benefit from our programme and gain their rightful place at top universities. As you would expect, being a University Access Officer can prove to be both thoroughly rewarding and immensely challenging in equal measure. But what has really been poignant for me as a recent member of the Access Project team, is the multiple sources of inspiration that I’m fortunate to encounter in my work. That inspiration lies in the dedicated volunteers who sacrifice their time; it lies in the parents and guardians who are invested in their children’s education; and it lies most importantly within the students whose resilience, diligence and positive attitude inspires us all.
Inspiration is everywhere at The Access Project.
Volunteer tutors dedicate their hard-earned spare time to work closely with our students. They come from a wide range of prestigious professions: from law, government and politics, finance, banking and economics. What’s more, when I get the opportunity to chat with our students, it’s clear that learning doesn’t just stop at the end of the one hour tutorials. It comes from their first-hand experience seeing how the world of work is closely connected to academic studies. The deeper they understand their subject, the more they want to find out.
I greatly admire the parents and guardians of our students, who want the best for their children. Speaking recently to a parent, they recognised they would never be able to provide this sort of tuition for their children due to financial circumstances and were sincerely thankful their child was receiving our help. This is a testament to the wider impact of our programme and how important it can be for the families of our students.
Supporting students from disadvantaged backgrounds brings with it a range of different challenges which our students face both at home and at school. After getting to know the students, I am in awe of their achievements at such a young age. Despite the obstacles faced, our young people come to school dedicated, motivated to learn, and eager to make a success of themselves.
It is fair to say that our work at the Access Project is deeply rewarding because of this community of devoted individuals. Though it can feel overwhelming to balance our role as mentor, teacher, sounding board and organiser, there is always a source of inspiration close by that stands ready to invigorate us in our work.