The epiphany that led me to Hope…

Tuesday 6th August at around 12:30pm was my epiphany moment. I had just got back from my second trip to Benidorm in the space of 7 weeks, and I had the blues. The most recent trip was to celebrate the return of my girlfriend who had just spent 8 weeks coaching football in Orlando, so as you can imagine, we hit it hard!

I was on my lunch break, working for an organisation who sets up foreign exchange programmes and sister school partnerships between the schools in the UK and the eastern powerhouse that is China. Sounds interesting, right? No. My return was greeted with moans and groans from other staff about how they hate their job and life in general. I found myself joining in and feeling instantly miserable. I found myself thinking about why I was doing that job, and if it was right for me? It wasn’t the first time I had thought about this. The main attraction when I accepted the role was having the chance to give young people the opportunity of a lifetime, better life prospects and a wonderful experience which would help them stand out when they leave school. However, the role was very different to what I had first expected. Unachievable sales targets, micromanagement, poor company values and a terrible employee culture.

A colleague had asked me what I really wanted to do? The answer was to raise the aspirations of young people, the type of young people who had been dealt a bad hand in life so far and help them reach their full potential. I have some good experience of working with young people, but not enough knowledge to make a real difference. I needed to go to university. It is something I had been considering for quite some time but never had the bottle to take the plunge.

I’m a 28 year old mature student, 9 years on from my first failed attempt at University (I lasted 3 months studying sports at Leeds Beckett in 2010). I swore I would go back but got comfortable earning a ‘decent wage’ every month and not having much responsibility. This hadn’t worked for me so far – I‘ll talk about that some other time!

I put down my mozzarella and buffalo chicken wrap and started searching for courses at Liverpool Hope. Within 20 minutes I had a telephone interview with student admissions and was offered a place a day later. Childhood & Youth Studies and Education, a combined degree which sounded engaging, challenging and fitted exactly with what I wanted to study. At the drop of hat my life was about to completely change. The decision to go back to University originally filled me with self-doubt and worry, but it was like a breath of fresh-air and I was excited.

Telling people that I knew, was met with responses such as ‘are you mad?’, ‘see how long that lasts’, ‘what will you do for money?’. It was a bit disheartening but gave me a weird boost and desire to prove people wrong. I left my job and attended the registration day on Thursday 26th September and was all set to start the following Monday for induction week!

That weekend I had plans to go out and celebrate with my girlfriend, who was also starting Hope the following week. I went off to football as I do every Saturday and she went off to Birmingham for the day for work. 25 minutes in to the game, I was involved in an innocuous tackle with the goalkeeper but knew something was up. I had broken my leg. X-rays showed I had snapped my shin bone clean in half. Two weeks on, I’m awaiting an operation to sort out what is described as a ‘rare’ kind of break.

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It has been a tough two weeks, but the support and flexibility of Liverpool Hope University has been fantastic and I’m looking forward to my journey once I have made my recovery. If anyone has suffered anything similar or has any advice, please get in touch.

See where I’m up to in another two weeks! Good luck and I hope you have had an easier first fortnight back than I have…

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Colin Hartley

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