Students

 
Jennifer Abalo [*VIDEO*]
Humanities @ Langside Campus - Business @ GCU
Jennifer is a 40-year-old single mum of one who completed the Access to Humanities programme at Glasgow Clyde College (Langside Campus). She is now studying Business at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU). 

You can hear Jennifer's story by clicking the image or copying the link below: 

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http://youtu.be/cg7JZJlinV8

My name is Jennifer Abalo. I’m 40 years old and originally from Uganda.  I came to Scotland in 2005 and met my daughter’s father soon afterwards, so I settled here.  

At first, my life here was based completely around my family and my partner, who had also given me employment.  I worked for him for quite a long time, during which time we had a baby daughter.  During that time, I felt that there was something missing from my life; I wanted an education.  I tried to do courses like the ECDL and I really I wanted to go to college. But my partner wouldn’t let me do it because he felt that I was “secure” with the job he had given me. It was quite a prominent and successful business, and he could not understand why I would want anything else in life. He felt that I had everything I could want.  But that wasn’t what I really wanted. What I wanted was to go back into education. So, that disagreement kind of brought an end to our relationship because I wanted to pursue my dream, and he could not support that.  

I went to Langside campus and talked to the lecturers there and they gave me the advice to go on to the SWAP Access course because I was a mature student. I ended up doing the Humanities course, which was very, very good.  It opened up my life. In my class, I had students that were the same age group as me. I took the right path and I’m proud that it’s the path I took!  

My idea of my future – what I really wanted to do with my life – was to have my own business. That’s why I opted for university. I thought that by having an education and a good qualification, I would be able to express myself well and analyse things in a very critical way. How to do my business, how to run my books, how to manage my finances. So, putting myself into this place and trying as hard as possible to go through books at my age, I think, that is a great challenge for me.  

My first day at college I was so nervous. It felt strange because, after being out of school for over 20 years, it was like starting primary or nursery again! The only thing that kept me going was when I went into the class I could see people of the same kind of age group like me. That made me feel at home and everybody was friendly. The lecturers were really friendly. So, my first experience was a challenge but I overcame it because of the people surrounding me. All good people.  

We had a class of different kinds of people from different places – people from Iran, people from Iraq, lots of Scottish people. I was the only African girl. We all worked as a team, which was very good. We gave each other encouragement to go on. We sat together at lunch and talked over what we were studying. When someone was getting weak, others would try to push them up. We were giving each other a boost, which was very good.  

The lecturers at college were really very good. I don’t know how I can express it. Because there were some subjects that I had never studied in my life – things like sociology. We had a lecturer called Iain who was really great. He had all the knowledge that could make you love the subject. And we also had Janet; she was very good at Maths. And most people in class didn’t love Maths but she made people love it! When she first told us about the two tests – calculator and non-calculator – everyone said they would never do the non-calculator test. But by the end, everyone had signed up to do it, which shows you how good the teacher was.  Our English teachers helped us learn how to write essays. We learned geography. And all of the subjects were great.

What we studied at college was so broad that, compared to what I am doing at university right now, it is all embedded in that. That shows you how important the Access Programme is because it doesn’t only bring you back into education, it gives you a foundation. It gives you knowledge. It gives you courage.
 

The biggest challenge for me during my Access programme was committing myself to my studies in spite of my personal issues with my partner, and having a young child to look after.  Having a child with no one else there to support you is very challenging, but you have to keep time to do your work, to do your assignments. It was quite a challenge but I managed because the lecturers were there to help me. Where I felt I was getting stuck, I could talk to them and they would give me all their time to help me.  The college also managed to get me some funding that I could put towards childcare, which was really great. I had to forego some things, like a social life and watching television. I established a routine so that I could attend to my daughter and do my work at night, after she was asleep in bed.  

When I think back to the time when I first entered college, I would never have believed that I could be at university now, in my second year. That feeling is so strange...and interesting. When you’re in class the first few weeks, everything seems so difficult. You wonder if you’ll manage. You keep asking yourself, am I wasting my time here? You should never think that way. Everybody has a dream. Follow it. The day you enter college, think ahead -- don’t think backwards – and you’ll achieve your dream.  
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