Unconfident, reserved and quiet. Ask me to describe myself in three words before I joined The Access Project and that is likely what I would have said. Upon being introduced to The Access Project I was sceptical about applying, reluctant to take the opportunity since very few of my friends were even considering taking part. Eventually I decided against it, feeling like it was something I could never see myself staying dedicated to. I would constantly doubt my abilities, regardless of how well I was praised by everybody else, and felt I wasn’t going to be accepted.  I was very lucky to have such a supportive University Access Officer (UAO). Without realising, I actually missed the deadline however; I had a sudden change of mind and upon emailing my UAO, she was more than happy to still let me apply.

Applying was one of the best things I could’ve done. My tutor is amazing, supportive and extremely helpful. She is extremely flexible and manages to teach me what feels like a days’ worth of knowledge in one hour. Slowly, after every email I sent and every session that I attended I felt more confident, more independent and overall less introverted. I began to notice many positive changes after joining the programme. I was clearly more confident not just in my abilities but also in myself. I noticed that I began to take many more opportunities, paying little regard for trivial things such as whether or not anyone else was taking part. The Access Project made me realise that I was the only one who could take the necessary steps to follow my goals and dreams and what everyone else was doing wasn’t something that would help me.

I could write an entire essay listing the things my tutor has helped me with but there is one thing I can never forget. It was for when I decided to take another great opportunity and apply for work experience which required me to write a CV. When she heard about this she jumped at the opportunity to help me and I was more than happy to accept her expertise and experience regarding the topic. I was surprised at how helpful she was. Obviously I knew there were improvements that needed to be made but her assistance not only massively increased my chance of being offered work experience but also helped me get a better understanding and knowledge of things that schools do not always go over, such as CV writing skills.

I mentioned how I would’ve described myself in three words before joining The Access Project, but how would I describe myself now? Well firstly, I feel three words are no longer enough. I’ve become confident, self-motivated, optimistic, opportunistic and ambitious. I could go on and on and yet I wouldn’t be able to fully explain the positive effect that The Access Project has had on me and all it has done for me.

Jakaria is a Year 10 student from East London

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