Cardiff Connect, Why Universities?

Universities are for everyone

Naomi Owen (BA 2018, Digital Media and Society 2018-), after completing her undergraduate degree in Media, Journalism and Culture, is now studying for her Master’s degree in Digital Media and Society.

There was a moment last Christmas, when my mother walked through the door with parcels from the food bank, and I thought, “who am I trying to kid, getting a university degree?”

But arriving back at Cardiff and hearing the news that I had been chosen to receive the James Thomas Award filled me with immense optimism. It felt overwhelming that such a prestigious institution had recognised me as a student with potential to succeed.

Going to university was not a given for me. I come from a very working class family where university had never even been attempted before. I felt out of my depth. But I listened to the teachers at my comprehensive school, had faith in my abilities, and applied.

Cardiff University has changed my life, identity, and mindset in so many complex and unexpected ways.

The most important change is realising I should not be ashamed of who I am and where I’ve come from. I was once told that my writing style could be too convoluted. I was overcompensating for the fact that I was a working class girl with a Swansea accent with very little chance of achieving in academia. Now I remind myself that by being a working-class writer with experiences to share, a positive cultural intervention is already underway.

University has allowed me to enter a new world of possibilities that I never even knew existed. I have learned ideas and concepts that have given me insight into why things are the way they are in our society. And I have my own ideas about how to actually change it.

When I had the pleasure of meeting [James’ mother] Mrs Thomas, she said something that stuck with me. She said that university offers young people the chance to grow and flourish whilst remaining in a secure and protected support network. I don’t think that she could have been more right.

With the knowledge I have gained and support I have received, I feel confident that my future will actually be positive.

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