Posted on Thursday, 30 August 2018 at 12pm
by Lifelong Learning Centre Staff.
The following blog is a guest post from Michael Row, a BA Politics student at Leeds who is about to study for a year at George Washington University on the Study Abroad programme and who recently completed an internship with the Lifelong Learning Centre.
I joined the LLC as a Social Media Intern in June 2018. From the outset the ethos and mission of the department left a deep impression on me. My father enrolled on a degree with The Open University when I was very young and I’ve witnessed first-hand how empowering and emancipating education can be, both for an individual and their family.
Working at the LLC has only served to reinforce this view. I’ve been privileged enough to listen to inspirational talks from our wonderful Learning Champions and hear their stories of triumph over adversity. I’ve spoken to individuals who, through no fault of their own, didn’t have the opportunity to advance to higher education when they were my age, but who with the guidance of the LLC have flourished.
This year’s Adult Learner Summer School was especially inspirational to me as I was able to see how people interested in bettering themselves gained confidence over the course of the three days. I was given a taste of how LLC tutors like Kay Sidebottom and Felix Janeway tailor and fine-tune their sessions to suit and engage different kinds of people, and seeing the preconceived ideas people have of higher education dispelled by the likes of MJ Morgan and Mohammed Hussain was a real eye-opener!
From an employment point of view, I’ve been privileged to witness how friendly, hard-working and driven the staff of the LLC are behind the scenes. Whether it was Tony Ellis inviting me for an informal chat early on to get to know me, or spending lunchtimes discussing current affairs with Richard Clarkson, I can confidently say I have never felt less than unequivocally welcome. One particular highlight was discussing work over a couple of Tequila shots with Paul Devlin on a work night out! Furthermore, while taking my usual spot at a hot-desk in the office, I have seen with my own eyes how hard-working and dedicated the front-of-house team are to providing an excellent student experience.
I also felt fortunate to attend the Leeds Armed Forces Day with Barbara Kempf of the Communities and Partnerships team, and my fellow intern and current LLC student Sarah Hudson. This gave me a fascinating insight into how dedicated the C&P team are to their work, but at the same time I was shocked at how many times I heard members of the public say “University? I’m too old for that” (it’s safe to say Barbara set them right very quickly).
Finally, I’d like to thank Jenni Whitfield for the work she has done to help me feel welcome and productive at the LLC. Like many in the department, she appears to do more work than seems possible for an individual, while on top of that, she somehow finds time to help coordinate and plan our social media and digital presence. This seems like too much work for one person to do, even before you factor in showing me how to use a calendar or work the printer!
Overall, I could not recommend the Lifelong Learning Centre more highly. Their ethos and mission is consistent across the staff; from reception to senior management, and I regard it as a deep privilege to have worked for such an inspirational department.