Sabor Ali
Springburn Campus (GKC) (Health) 2013/14 * GCU Operating Department Practice 2014/15 - present
Hello, I’m Sabor, I’m 48 years old and I’m from Birmingham. I’m one of six children. My father and mother were both born in Pakistan but my father came over for work and eventually my mother joined him.  When I was 17 years old, I went with my family back to Pakistan to be engaged. It was a traditional “arranged marriage” but I thought I would be engaged for a few years first; instead we were married right away! Although I didn’t actually meet my wife until after we were married, I feel I was very fortunate. She is gorgeous and caring and has been very supportive over the years; we have a strong partnership. We’ve been married for over 30 years now and have six children: three boys and three girls.

For 30 years, I worked in food service – pubs, bistros and kebab shops – as a waiter, dishwasher, kitchen porter – you name it.  Eventually I got together with two friends and we opened our own business. I became very good at buying run-down restaurants, cleaning them up and making them profitable. I was self-employed running my own kebab shop for 17 years  but then things took a turn for the worse; all of the nearby factories closed down, then the nightclubs closed down and the customers simply disappeared. I wound up selling my business at a loss. This event had a deep impact on me and I felt very depressed, feeling that I had failed. I was in a very dark place for a while but eventually remembered that my wife and kids were the most important things in my life; they had all stood by me and still loved me. So, I decided that I wouldn’t jump off a bridge just yet! Instead, I started trying to think of a way out of my situation, a way to build up a new career that would sort me out for the rest of my life.

Although I had been quite clever at school, my parents did not really emphasise the value of formal education. My father worked in a foundry doing manual labour, shovelling coal into a hot furnace all day long, and neither of my parents had pursued a formal education. The emphasis at home was on getting a job and making money. I spent 30 years “chasing money” but something changed within me after I lost my business, and my focus moved more towards the helping professions.

I’m a naturally caring person and I had dealt with the public for a long time. I was used to dealing with all sorts of situations -- drunk people, people getting hurt and needing help – and I enjoyed helping others. Also, when I was in hospital a few years ago, there was a male nurse who really impressed me. He helped save my life, but he also took the time to explain to me what was going on, he put me at my ease and always treated me with respect.  He was amazing and I was inspired by him.  

I realised that nursing was something I could do, so I looked into it and found the Access to Nursing programme offered at several different colleges. I applied for them all but was advised at interview that the Access to Health programme might be more suitable and would give me more options. At that time, I had a limited understanding of Operating Department Practice and I was told that it was highly competitive, but the more I learned about it, the more I realised that I would be really good at it.  I went for the Nursing interviews anyway and the feedback from SWAP really helped me to improve my interview techniques. Two weeks later, I passed my ODP interview.  

Going back to college at the age of 48 was daunting. I just thought there’s no way I should be at college at my age! But life seemed to be leading me in that direction. I gradually developed a different frame of mind and became more responsive to opportunities. I think it was just the right time for me.  

Now I’m looking forward to starting at GCU in September 2014. I still can’t believe I’m going to be at uni. I never thought I would have the opportunity but now that I have it, I’m grabbing it with both hands. I pushed all my kids to go to university and they’ve all done well. Now it’s my turn.    
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