Leeds Trinity University celebrates 7 inspiring graduates

Students at Leeds Trinity University have been returning to its campus in Horsforth to receive their degree certificates as they graduate after one of the most challenging years in history.
These graduates have overcome adversity and personal challenges to earn their successThese graduates have overcome adversity and personal challenges to earn their success
These graduates have overcome adversity and personal challenges to earn their success

Leeds Trinity has invited its Class of 2021 to gowning and professional photography appointments to mark their academic success and achievements, after the formidable difficulties presented by the global coronavirus pandemic.

And during the graduation events, the University is also celebrating seven students who have had to overcome a range of personal challenges on their way to successfully completing their studies.

Emma Paxton: degree in Forensic Psychology

Emma Paxton graduates with a First-Class degree in Forensic Psychology after overcoming adversity during her time at University.

Emma (21), from Bradford, picked Leeds Trinity as her first choice for completing her degree due to its closeness to home and its appeal as a small, campus-based institution with a personal and supportive learning community.

Since joining in September 2018, Emma has faced significant personal challenges, especially over the last year when she lost her mum during lockdown.

Emma has consistently achieved high ‘First’ marks in her final year assessments, crediting hard work and the support she received from her lecturers and peers.

Emma said: “Since starting at Leeds Trinity University, I have completely changed as a person, in a good way. I absolutely loved my Forensic Psychology course. I was surrounded by people with the same interests as me, I was learning fascinating information, and I had incredibly supportive lecturers who would help in any way they could.

“I have experienced a lot of trauma and I found it extremely difficult to focus and produce my best quality of work while grieving for my family, especially during lockdown when my mum passed away.

“Despite this, I received a lot of support from my lecturers and peers and put a huge amount of work into my assignments, resulting in me achieving all Firsts in final year.”

Dr Danielle McDermott, Senior Professional Practice Fellow at Leeds Trinity University, said: “Emma had an incredibly difficult summer prior to her third year of studies, and I am so proud of how she navigated through this with strength, dignity and motivation.”

Since completing her undergraduate studies, Emma plans to stay in Leeds and has started working full-time at a secondary school for individuals with Autistic Spectrum Condition.

Hannah Roberts: degree in Working with Children, Young People and Families and an Academic Achievement award

Hannah Roberts (21), from Leeds, was awarded the Children, Young People and Families Academic Achievement award in recognition of her hard work and resilience after losing her dad to terminal cancer in January this year, while also continuing her role as a carer to her mum and navigating her own health issues after being diagnosed with severe Crohn’s Disease.

Hannah joined Leeds Trinity in September 2018, after choosing the University as her first choice based on its proximity to home, which helped with managing caring responsibilities. She was also drawn to the University due to its small size and ‘name, not a number’ ethos.

She always knew she wanted to work with children or elderly people, and chose her degree in Working with Children, Young People and Families to enable her to make a difference in society and help people.

Reflecting on her time at Leeds Trinity, Hannah said: “There are many memories that I have from my time at University and there is a real sense of community in which everyone looks out for each other. I have always struggled with anxiety and University has helped me to become more sociable, pushed me out of my comfort zone and enabled me to express my opinions on subjects I am really passionate about.”

She added: “My all-time favourite memory has to be in recent months when I really struggled to find the motivation to complete an assignment and really didn’t believe I could finish it. I stayed up most of the night and that was the last assignment my dad ever saw me hand in. The look on both of my parents’ faces was priceless and they were both so proud, knowing how hard everything was at the time between battling with my own health and caring for my parents.”

Hannah now plans to stay in Leeds and is taking the next year to run her own sewing business and return to work as a nursery practitioner. She then hopes to pursue a masters at Leeds Trinity University in 2022, with ambitions to qualify as a play therapist and use her personal experience to support children through their grief.

Leila Damenova: degree in Accounting and Business

Leila Damenova (46), graduates with a First-Class degree in Accounting and Business after returning to full-time higher education to pursue her lifelong dream of attending university, gaining a degree in her academic field and being a positive role model to her two children.

Alongside Leeds Trinity’s personalised approach towards learning, teaching and student experience, Leila was drawn to the University based on its size and career opportunities. And after completing her compulsory professional work placement with Morrisons, she secured a permanent position with the retailer.

Originally from Kazakhstan, Leila came to study at Leeds Trinity University after completing an interpreting course at Bradford College. She speaks Russian and English fluently, and with knowledge of Kazakh and Croatian languages, now hopes to pursue a career in a business using her skills as a linguist.

Leila said: “When I started thinking about returning to higher education, I was looking for a local university. From the first day I stepped on campus for an Open Day, I felt a very warm welcome and sense of belonging. During my time at Leeds Trinity, I have gained knowledge and confidence, while also meeting some amazing people – both lecturers and students alike.”

She added: “Studying has impacted my confidence in a positive way – I have proved that I can learn, and I have also become more open-minded to the world around me. My advice to current and prospective students would be that it’s never too soon, or too late to learn.”

Linden Metcalfe: degree in Physical Education

Physical Education student Linden Metcalfe graduates after completing his undergraduate degree at Leeds Trinity University alongside his commitments as an international athlete with the GB Pioneers rugby league squad.

Linden (21), from Pontefract first joined the University in September 2018, balancing his studies alongside his sporting endeavours as a rugby league player.

In September 2019, he was selected to represent Great Britain on the GB Pioneers Rugby League Tour in Albania. After being selected for the GB Pioneers, Linden was awarded £500 from Leeds Trinity University’s Inspiring Futures Programme Sporting Excellence Fund as a contribution towards his trip.

He was also part of the University’s Talented Athlete Support Package, which offers free gym membership, access to the University Strength and Conditioning Suite, tailored Sport Science testing and support, and learning and teaching support for his academic studies. Following his international appearance with the GB Pioneers, he was highly commended in the 2020 Leeds Sports Awards in the ‘Student Sport’ category.

Linden said: “Leeds Trinity University was my first choice and I was impressed by the international placement opportunities, as well as its ‘name, not a number’ ethos which means you feel part of a family. My most memorable moments have come through playing the sport I love – captaining the Leeds Trinity Titans, playing for GB Pioneers and English Universities. To be recognised at such a highly regarded event like the Leeds Sports Awards was an immense honour.”

He added: “During my time at University, my confidence has grown in my professional abilities, as have my academic interests, especially in strength and conditioning. Leeds Trinity has helped to shape my career expectations and I’ve learnt that if you enjoy what you do, it becomes more than a job, it becomes a lifestyle.”

Linden is currently working as a junior development officer at Pontefract Rugby Union Football Club. In September, he will start his PGCE teacher training through the Five Towns Partnership.

Rebecca Sharp: degree in Primary Education Early Years

Rebecca Sharp graduates with a degree in Primary Education: Early Years and a full-time teaching position after making an impression at her Final Year placement school.

Rebecca (21), from Leeds, was drawn to the University based on its reputation for training teachers to work in primary and secondary education settings

During her Second Year, Rebecca was successful in her application to volunteer in South Africa as part of the University’s ongoing work with the Bambisanani Partnership, of which Harry Potter actor Matthew Lewis is patron. Due to travel in July 2020, Becky was preparing to teach literacy and numeracy to students in primary schools and a local orphanage.

The aim of the partnership is to use sport as a catalyst to promote education, health, global citizenship and leadership in one of South Africa’s poorest communities. As a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, this trip was unable to go ahead, however, prior to leaving, Rebecca was involved in fundraising initiatives, training and lesson planning, with all fundraising donated to the Bambisanani Partnership to support students in South Africa.

Rebecca said: “I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to volunteer in South Africa, even though the trip didn’t go ahead. I had the opportunity to form new friendships, collaborate with students from a variety of courses and share a passion on the project while fundraising for the partnership.”

Despite the challenges of the last year, Rebecca has secured her dream role as a newly qualified teacher and will start her career as a reception class teacher in September.

Reflecting on her time at Leeds Trinity, she said: “Starting at the University as a student who had little confidence when speaking in front of others to standing in front of children and adults as a teacher, my confidence has grown massively. This has not only positively impacted my career, but all aspects of my life. Studying at Leeds Trinity has instilled a confidence and self-belief that I can apply for jobs and pursue my career, which was a big step in the right direction to securing my dream job.”

Surinder Rall: degree in Working with Children, Young People and Families

Surinder Rall has graduated with a degree in Working with Children, Young People and Families after already securing her dream job at mental health organisation Leeds Mind.

Surinder (36), from Leeds, has achieved her degree while working as an Interim Service Lead at Leeds Mind’s Suicide Bereavement Service. She secured this role following a successful placement in her First Year at University. She has also balanced working and studying alongside raising her child as a single mum.

Surinder joined Leeds Trinity in September 2018, after receiving encouraging feedback from friends who were former students. She has always had an interest in supporting families, and chose her degree in Working with Children, Young People and Families to enable her to make a difference to vulnerable families and communities.

Surinder said: “Leeds Trinity University has helped me become more confident in my abilities and has helped me develop a stronger sense of self belief, both professionally and personally. My lecturer Syra Shakir has helped build my confidence as a professional and unexpectedly, helped me reconnect with the South Asian part of my identity. Leeds Trinity has given me a place to belong, and I hope to stay involved with the University in some shape or form.”

She added: “The University was accommodating to my needs of being a lone parent and employed part-time. Working in a related field meant I could directly apply the knowledge I had learnt while studying, which helped me secure a post of Interim Service Lead. At times, it has not been easy to manage the demands of my role and studying, but remote working and the support of my tutors and employer has helped.”

Surinder plans to continue working in her field, developing suicide bereavement support for people across West Yorkshire and further highlighting the impact of suicide bereavement.

She is also hoping to pursue a masters at Leeds Trinity University, in order to create a new family support service.

Tom Allen: degree in Media

Leeds Trinity University Media graduate Tom Allen has secured a full-time content delivery role at ITV during his final year, overcoming the challenges of the pandemic.

Tom (21), from Northallerton, started working at ITV as a Content Delivery Coordinator in May before even graduating, following a successful professional work placement as a Content Delivery Assistant with the organisation.

Tom, who achieved a First-Class degree in Media, has joined the broadcasting network at an exciting time, with his team responsible for capturing the new series of Love Island for ITV’s streaming services.

Leeds Trinity embeds professional work placements in every undergraduate degree programme and Tom carried out his First Year placement with ITV, which he attributes to gaining his graduate position.

In his new role, he is responsible for time code capture of TV shows and films, and is learning how to colour grade and edit. ITV Content Delivery is an award-winning service with the organisation responsible for media transfer, transcoding, content restoration, digitisation and distribution in the North of England.

Tom said: “Starting full-time work where I had previously completed my placement has allowed a seamless and stress-free transition from studying to employment. I am very proud of myself for having made it through the recruitment process as it was the first job I applied for since finishing University. I found my work placement at ITV with myFuture, the University’s in-house careers team, who have all been so helpful with assisting me in refining my CV and interview preparation.”

For more information on the University, visit the website.

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