Jack’s Story

26 years old, Penrith

Where did you grow up?

Penrith.

What did you study in higher education?

Social Enterprise Leadership.                

Why did you decide on this subject?

I am so passionate about working in the voluntary and public sectors and I want to make a massive difference in communities across the globe. Studying Social Enterprise Leadership taught me how to convert my wacky ideas into professionally tangible ones, how to run an organisation and funding bids, and how to manage and lead teams to success.

I was really fortunate that my university fees were covered by the Francis C Scott Charitable Trust. There was no UCAS application, but a rigorous internal application and interview with a handful of requirements. One of the requirements was to have a host organisation within the sector, who would support me through my university journey. My host was Inspira Cumbria who were sublime at supporting me and giving me opportunities to professionally develop and link my work with my studies.

What did you want to be as a child?

As a child I wanted to help people. As a teen I had a range of different jobs that I wanted to do from a holiday rep to a chef to owning my own pub.

Has your career or education taken any unexpected turns? 

My educational journey has taken so many different twists and turns. When I finished my GCSEs I made the decision to carry on my studies at Ullswater Community College through A Levels. This was mainly because I didn’t know what else I wanted to do. At the end of Year 12, I went to a Careers Fair at The Sands Centre in Carlisle and found out about some horticulture courses at university and instantly decided that I wanted to become a landscape gardener. In the remaining weeks, I applied to study horticulture part-time at Newton Rigg College whilst carrying on my studies of Theatre Studies and Psychology A Levels at Ullswater Community College.

Why did you decide to study for a degree?

I did not go to university until I was 22. Between finishing school and starting university I worked on Camp America for a summer in New York, completed the International Citizen Service (ICS) with a three-month placement in New Delhi, India followed by a further ten months of volunteering and travelling in India. This absolutely nailed down what I wanted to do; supporting young people to reach their potential. It was only when I was absolutely certain what I wanted to do in life that I explored continuing my educational journey through higher education.

What did you study at sixth form or college? 

I studied Theatre Studies, Psychology, Media Studies and Mathematics. I studied the first three because I really enjoyed the subjects and I studied maths because I thought I was good at it (however, without the passion for the subject it was a massive waste of a year!)

How did you decide what to do after school or college?

I don’t ever really remember making a conscious decision on my path, things happened and fell in to place and I simply kept saying ‘yes’ to any opportunity that arose for me!

Did anyone help you to decide?

No one ‘helped me’ to decide what I wanted to do, but I was incredibly lucky to have parents who supported my decisions (however questionable some of them were) and through all my twists and turns I always had their backing.

Who influenced you?

Again, my parents were massive influencers for me. They both worked as college lecturers at my age because they loved teaching students and helping them find what they were passionate about. My mum is still a lecturer and I don’t think she’ll ever have another job because she absolutely loves teaching and seeing her students learn! My dad worked with young people and adults throughout Cumbria for 15+ years helping to inspire them to make good, rational choices.

What support did you get?

Throughout my journey, I was supported by so many people. Working a full-time job whilst being a full-time student was really hard at times, but support came from a range of people from family and friends to Inspira and my course tutors. I was really lucky to have a super inspiring mentor in my first year at university who I still speak to now and she was amazing.

What was the best thing about your degree course?

The best thing about my course was I was learning how things worked in the real world all the time. Everything I was studying was real time and I was able to implement a lot of this in to my everyday working practice.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?

I see myself running my own charity or non-profit organisation, changing people’s lives, helping them find their potential and eventually doing what they LOVE to do!

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