My name is Tyler, and I am a Graduate Intern Outreach Officer at Hello Future.

I grew up in the wonderful town of Widnes; famous largely due to its rugby league team, its bridge (which once appeared in a cathedral cheese advert), and its rather unusual smell. Widnes is quite an economically deprived area, where higher education was not traditionally encouraged. Take my family for example, my mum worked in the ‘crispie’ (the local crisp factory), and my dad was a postman. Both had never given a minute’s thought to higher education, mainly because it was not particularly necessary to get by in life.

Consequently, I’d never really heard of university until around year 7/8. Around this time, the ‘crispie’ shut down, laying off thousands of workers including my mum. Following this, my mum decided to go back to university and do a foundation degree in biology, followed by a PGCE (teaching qualification). Watching this transition inspired me, as I saw the impact of higher education first-hand. My mum got to study something she had a real passion for, while simultaneously making her future career a lot more enjoyable and secure.

I decided to stay on at my high school 6th form and do A levels in Maths, Business Studies, History, and English Literature. The opportunity to study subjects I was passionate about in greater detail was a big feature of HE that I loved. Following my A levels, after a lot of research and help from careers teams, I decided I wanted to pursuit a degree in Economics at the University of Manchester. Economics was a topic we had only briefly covered; however, it really took my interest. Furthermore, an additional benefit was the ability to say I studied economics, which basically made me sound clever. Overall, I loved my time in Manchester. The subject, the social aspect and the city in general were all brilliant. My favourite aspect was the independence I gained at university. As part of my experience, I moved into halls and then a student house. This gave me a great deal of independence and for the first time in my life I felt like a proper adult. This for me is one of the great benefits of HE which is often ignored. In the end, I loved my time in Manchester so much that I then decided to stay on and do a master’s degree there in Public Policy.

It was while studying for this qualification that I realised I wanted to help people from similar places to myself. One of the features of university which was constantly apparent to me was how so few people came from areas or had accents like mine (or northern ones in general). While I loved university, this was a constant niggle and made settling in quite difficult at times. This is a big part of the reason I wanted to join the Hello Future team. Moreover, it is the reason why a key bit of advice I would give someone from an area like Widnes is try not to doubt yourself or your decisions when it comes to Higher Education. If you want to study a topic you love in greater detail, at a college or university which you have earned the right to be at, just throw yourself into it and keep going. As in the end it will all be worth it and if enough people like you do it, you will not feel out of place when it comes to your own Higher Education journey.