Hear from Birkbeck students and researchers who have benefitted from the support of our community.
Michael was 12 years old when he and his siblings were brought to the UK by their father. Only a few years later, his father left – and Michael and his siblings were taken into care. Aged 16 and without a passport or a birth certificate, Michael was unable to access state support. Things began to unravel as Michael tried to provide for his younger siblings: he was sent to prison for using someone else’s identification papers to work.
At Birkbeck, Michael was able to access the financial and pastoral support he needed to begin higher education. “Birkbeck gave me a new way of viewing the world. I felt valued as a person and a student, rather than being seen as a criminal. This was so important because it changed the way I think and behave. At Birkbeck, I felt part of a safe and encouraging environment that allowed me to cut ties with my past and succeed in building a meaningful life for myself. I strongly believe that the power of education will help so many others like me and give them real opportunity to rebuild their lives.”
Adeeba began her studies at Birkbeck amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout her first year, she was living and working in Bristol while classes were taught online. This year, as in-person teaching resumed, Adeeba relocated to London to make the most of what Birkbeck and its home city have to offer.
“I’m working as a mental health support worker alongside my degree, which can be challenging but at the same time, hugely rewarding – I enjoy that my work goes hand-in-hand with my studies. Being in London has been fantastic and I explore the city as much as I can. Studying on campus this year has made such a difference. I enjoyed the first year of my Master’s, but now being able to attend lectures in person and meet new people who share my passion for neuroscience is great.
“Having an excellent learning environment has a massive impact on productivity and motivation levels. Knowing that you have all the resources you need, as well as great facilities, makes you want to be in that environment and continue do your best. Birkbeck’s new classroom and teaching facilities are welcoming, they inspire creativity and make you feel part of a community.”
As an award-winning published author, Mary had achieved critical success, but she was beginning to feel stuck in a rut with her writing. She saw education as a solution. Beginning a Master’s degree was a difficult decision: it was a significant financial commitment for Mary and her family, and there was extensive public discourse around cutting university funding for creative subjects. After much consideration and a life changing offer of support, Mary seized the opportunity to study at Birkbeck, developing her craft and voice, while learning from other seasoned writers.
“Birkbeck has been everything I hoped for, and more. Though much of my course was delivered through remote learning due to the pandemic, Birkbeck seminars and workshops became the highlight of my week, while the assignments spurred me on to try new approaches in my writing.
“While my studies at Birkbeck have allowed me to expand my intellectual horizons, the financial support offered by the College permitted me to focus on my creative development rather than a scramble for funds. I can say with confidence that choosing to study at Birkbeck was one of the best decisions of my life.”
The discovery of water on Mars has fuelled speculation about the potential for life on the Red Planet, both in terms of extra-terrestrial activity but also as a new home for humankind. Graham has always been fascinated by Mars and having completed a BSc in Planetary Science at Birkbeck, is now undertaking research on the planet’s glaciers through a funded PhD.
“After ten years out of formal education, Birkbeck was the perfect option for me. I hadn’t studied A-levels and was able to join Birkbeck after taking the necessary access courses to prepare me for my degree. Birkbeck’s evening classes allowed me to be in full-time employment while studying in order to support myself as a mature student.
“During my undergraduate degree my supervisor and I were analysing images from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission – the first spacecraft ever to orbit a comet – and discovered one of the largest cliff collapses observed on the comet’s surface. It is incredible to be contributing to planetary science and discovering new fields of research that can shape our understanding of the universe.”
Your generosity makes this kind of student support and high-level research possible.