Alumni Interview: Ella’s Degree Success!

Alumni Interview: Ella’s Degree Success!

Written by Mrs Hall

Ella attended Walkden High School from 2011-2016 before we converted to Co-op Academy Walkden. Passing on to study her A-Levels at Bolton Sixth Form College, Ella has just completed a LLB Law degree achieving First Class Honours from Manchester Metropolitan University. 

Her journey was not easy but through hard work, determination, and stunning resilience, Ella has become the latest in a long line of successes the school would like to share. Let’s hear from Ella in her own words:

How would you describe yourself when you were a pupil here?

“Loud, mischievous, honest and misunderstood. I was famous for my make-up and the teachers were always making me take it off. I also remember at the Y11 Leavers Assembly the rest of the year group voted me as the “person most likely to drop out of college”. How wrong were they?! I always kept my intentions of what I was going to do after school private and some of the negative perceptions people had about me motivated me to prove them wrong.”

What were your favourite subjects in school?

“I really liked Media Studies; it was just really fun and interesting which is why I carried that on for sixth form at A Level. I enjoyed English too, Miss Harrison was a really good teacher.”

What memories do you have of school?

“A lot of them are me being naughty! I remember one time I was rolling around the long jump sandpit because I didn’t want to run around the fields and some of the PE teachers were shouting at me. I don’t know what I was thinking!”

What has it been like studying Law at university?

“It’s been really hard and stressful at times but I have really enjoyed the course and learning about all the different areas of the law. Criminal law is probably the most interesting but I also find Property, Family and Employment law interesting too.”

How has Covid impacted your university experience?

“Covid really took a toll in many ways. Firstly, classes were all online which had positives and negatives. It was good because everything was recorded so you could relisten to lectures and go back over things if you weren’t sure. The downside was that I only had three hours a week of direct contact with tutors so you had to fit everything in during that time, otherwise communication was through email. Another impact of Covid was suffering a major family bereavement which made studying and taking exams hard as my concentration was really off. Then, to cap it all off, I developed Covid at the start of this year and ended up in hospital with Long Covid and pneumonia which is still affecting me now. But through all this, I kept going with my studies and worked as hard as I could. We also just had an online graduation which was a bit rubbish but hopefully we’ll have a real one scheduled for January.”

Have you had any work experience?

“For the last year, I’ve been volunteering and am on the Youth Justice panel. This involves meeting once a week and trying to support convicted young offenders (age 10-17) by offering support or rehabilitation to avoid custodial sentences. It can be pretty shocking at times and it makes me think about when I was younger – despite my reputation, I really wasn’t that bad! I was also selected from my university cohort to be mentored by the Ministry of Justice so have had regular meetings and coaching with a mentee which has been quite interesting.”

You’ve done so much! Have you had time for anything else?

“I also work part-time in Tesco on the checkouts and have been doing overtime when I can. My trip to New York has been cancelled because of Covid but I’ll definitely be rescheduling as soon as it’s easy to travel again.”

What do you plan on doing next?

“I’ve decided to stay on at university and complete my Masters in Law and the Legal Practice Course; I’ll be doing this over two years. The Legal Practice Course is quite demanding as you have to complete twelve exams in a row; if you fail one exam you have to start them from the beginning again. Hopefully gaining these qualifications will put me in a really strong position to gain a training contract with a solicitor as it is extremely competitive so this should give me the edge over others.”

What words of advice would you give to our students?

“Don’t let your own or other people’s  negative perceptions or thoughts of you stop you from trying something.”

It was absolutely brilliant to see Ella and talk to her about her fantastic successes beyond school. We are all extremely proud of her and what an amazing inspiration she is to our learners. We wish Ella the best of luck in her future career.