BA Social Policy student Sarah Hack

Sarah Hack

Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a mature student at 31 years old and I am Leeds born and bred. I always had a thought in the back of my mind about what it would be like to go to university. In 2014 I was made redundant from my job at the time and I decided it would be an opportunity to find out for myself just what it is like to be a student and to experience an academic life. Now, I wouldn’t describe myself as an academic but I love learning and I have a passion for making change and helping others. So I applied to study here and I successfully enrolled onto the foundation year run by the School of Sociology and Social Policy.

What motivated you to apply to study your course at Leeds?

I initially applied on the back of been made redundant from a job I was in for 10 years as a step to get into teaching. I applied to 3 different universities and York and Leeds were my first choices. I can honestly say that I picked Leeds because of Richard Tavernier who interviewed me for the position. He was so friendly and approachable and I loved how passionately he spoke about the course and the university itself. I’ve had the pleasure of being taught by Richard throughout my degree and it has been a pleasure to get to know him.

What do you think of your course?

I think that my chosen course is brilliant because it is so varied and diverse. There are a number of topics and modules that cover current issues and there is something for everyone whether you’re interested in crime, politics or childhood studies there is something to grab your attention and get stuck into over the 3 years of study. There have been so many highlights, but I think just the way each topic opens your mind to eventualities and ways of thinking that you would never have come across outside of academia. The option to just download new journals and read about the different perspectives and views of some of the greatest academics and then having the opportunity to use them for an argument or even (if you dare) argue against them. I have been lucky in the fact that many of my module conveners and the tutors/lecturers that I have had have actually written books and journals that I have been able to utilise for my assignments. I think getting to the final year is my biggest highlight. Looking back and realising just how wonderful it’s been and feeling those emotions, I’m proud to have studied at University of Leeds.

You were involved in the Beyond the University module, can you tell us a bit more about it, and how it has helped you.

Yes I took this module in year 2. The ‘Beyond the University’ module allowed students to work with a number of third sector organisations in the city. I chose to work with the non-profit organisation Foundation. Foundation has helped over 3000 people including adults and young people with varied needs with the aim of tackling social exclusion and isolation of all kinds. I was assigned the role of Student Researcher and I worked with the young peoples’ team. I was asked to look into motivating young people into taking part in group activities and to build a network in the Leeds area to utilise local businesses and open up collaborative opportunities where possible.

This was a really rewarding and eye opening experience. I was free to work independently and knowing that my work would be helping others really gave me that boost to produce the highest quality of work and also let me carry out a form of role-play in which I had to imagine being 16 again and what I would have liked to do in this present day. It gave me the experience of working in the charity sector and showed me how difficult it can be, how little time and capital these organisations have to be able to deliver results. The module gave me more confidence and really helped me to work independently and trust my instincts. I even delivered my own Zumba class at Foundation which was so scary but so much fun at the same time, I received really positive feedback and it made me realise that I have skills and qualities that I wasn’t aware of before.

How would you describe the guidance by the School?

I think that the school is very good for giving guidance, though I have picked similar modules throughout my 3 years so I tend to have the same teaching staff throughout. There has been one member of staff that I have pestered all the way through my degree and she became my supervisor for my dissertation (Suzanne Hallam). Her help and advice has been invaluable and she has always made me feel at ease and confident, I always feel welcome when I go to see her she is very friendly and approachable. So a massive thank you to Suzanne.  She is what I would call a legend, and to use a very Yorkshire term ‘a good egg’!

How would you describe the facilities?

The facilities at the University are of the highest quality and there are constant upgrades and adaptations happening. The libraries are state of the art and there are plenty of places to study across the campus. I have been here 4 years and I don’t think I have seen the entire campus - it’s huge, a very interesting and beautiful little village.