Undergraduate student Liam Knights, studying BA Social Science.

Liam Knights

My name is Liam and I had a bit of a turbulent upbringing. I moved out of my parents aged 16 which in turn led me to miss my GCSEs. I slept on floors and sofas at friends’ houses for a few years and got heavily involved in drugs, eventually finding myself in prison and sleeping on the streets.

After finding housing, I got a job as a labourer on construction sites and decided that I wanted to get an education to better myself and improve my life chances, so I started looking at colleges to try and do an access course but I was told that no university would let me in without a maths GCSE. At this time I was helping to build the Laidlaw Library so I decided to go into the student services office at Leeds to get some information about what I needed to do to get accepted on to a course. While there I found the perfect course for me; a foundation year in social science. It is made for people like me who have the potential to study at university but may not necessarily have the formal qualifications to do so. I applied for it and then to my great surprise I was accepted!

I have found the course really interesting and engaging, learning about things such as class stratification and welfare legislation, things that have always directly affected my life without me even realising. It has been a real eye opener.

I think coming to university is the best thing I have ever done. It has allowed me to achieve things that I never thought possible and this has really helped to rebuild my lost confidence. I didn’t have any real friends before but during my time here so far I have made a strong network of friends and realised that I actually have a lot to offer people.

I have also learnt a lot about myself, and even though I thought I knew a lot about life in general, I have discovered that there is so much more to know and even though I have only been here for one year so far, I have changed and developed as a person in so many ways.

I would definitely recommend Leeds to other people. Before I came I was quite apprehensive about how people would treat me and whether I was actually good enough to be here, but all my worries were dispelled and I was welcomed with open arms by everyone. The thing I really enjoy is that any achievements you make are entirely down to you and you get back as much as you put in.

I think that education is the most important thing in the world and through it we can solve any problem that the world throws at us. To me it is a way out of poverty and the first step on the path towards the rest of my life. It will enable me to go to places I never dreamt of, like going to Ghana to help people in poverty, and to really make a difference in the world if I set my mind to it.

I still can’t believe I am here really, I keep thinking I will wake up and I’ll just be on some building site somewhere carrying bricks, daydreaming about a better life. But even though it seemed impossible at the time, I took the dive and just tried. You try to talk yourself out of it and tell yourself that there is no point because you are not good enough, but ultimately it is down to you to change yourself and if you muster up the courage to actually do it then there are so many people here at Leeds who will go out of their way to help you on your journey.