Eight first-year students awarded Bright Futures Scholarship
Bright Futures Scholarships offer financial support to students who might otherwise be unable to afford a university education. They are awarded to high achieving first year students who are the first in their family to go to university and are based on academic merit, with funding for the scholarships generously provided by Leeds Beckett alumni.
Bright Futures scholar and aspiring dietician Susan McCourt chose to study at Leeds Beckett after her brother became seriously ill with diabetes, which completely changed her attitude to how food and nutrition helps people live a healthy life.
Susan is a single mother and aims to work in the NHS as a dietician after her graduation so that she can provide security for her young family.
She said: “The decision for me to come to university was difficult because of the financial pressure, but in some ways, it was easy as I felt I was written off without a degree. I knew it would be a struggle but I knew that it would be transformative for my career and my happiness.”
Matthew Oldring who is studying Primary Education also hopes that a Leeds Beckett education will help him on the way to a new career path. Previously a gas engineer, Matthew gave up a successful career to retrain as a teacher after he volunteered to coach a children’s football team in his hometown.
He will use the scholarship to support himself during his studies and to fund work as a volunteer teacher in South Africa this summer to expand his skills and make him more employable.
He said: “The money will really help. It will relieve a lot of stress which will allow me to focus on my degree. It’s going to help me a long way in achieving what I want to accomplish.”
Like Matthew and Susan, Debby Van Aelst is also a mature student who came to Leeds Beckett after studying for GCSEs and an Access to Higher Education Diploma. She hopes to become a qualified speech and language therapist after graduation.
Debby chose to study speech and language therapy after seeing the impact it made on her younger brother. Seeing how vital communication was for her brother in forming social connections, succeeding in education and participating in society inspired her to attend university and pursue this career.
She said: “I used to watch the therapist when she did house visits and helped my brother use computer speech programmes and also sliding magnetic letters around on a whiteboard, so that was really amazing to see how he could actually speak to us through these methods which we didn’t know about.
“I didn’t really expect to go to university. I dropped out of school at 16 and went straight into work but there was always that urge to go back to education.”
It is now estimated that 82% of first and second-year students are stressed, with worrying about money being their fourth biggest concern when starting university. Support from alumni and friends who donate to the Bright Futures Scholarships is vital in helping students afford to stay at university, relieving a level of stress so that they can concentrate on their studies and boosting their confidence.