Madeleine – final year undergraduate Law student at Leeds Beckett University

Hi! I’m Marie Madeleine, a final year undergraduate Law student at Leeds Beckett University. I’m an African immigrant, having moved to England from Gambia at the age of 5 whilst teaching myself English along the way.

I definitely feel that there’s been barriers to higher education for me. I attended a secondary school that was consistently rated ‘unsatisfactory’ by Ofsted and felt like I had to deal with the ‘loud black girl’ stereotype throughout my time there. I was the only black girl in my year group, probably one of four in the entire school and I was always being taken out of lessons. This was often for trivial things that other girls wouldn’t be called up on or for reasons that couldn’t possibly have anything to do with me. This greatly affected me in my final two years, and I feel I would have done a lot better if I’d gone to school elsewhere. Luckily, I have a group of friends that have always been highly motivated and helped to keep me in check. I finished my GCSEs with good grades, including six As, and went on to study Law, Sociology and Business at college.

In my second year at uni, I was offered the role of African Caribbean Society (ACS) Vice President and this is how I met loads of people from similar backgrounds to me. Being a part of ACS genuinely made me more comfortable, confident in myself and appreciative of my culture.

I really enjoy my law degree course. Each module is well-structured and easy to understand, and assessments are completed throughout the year at specific periods, rather than all at once at the end of the year. After I graduate, my plan is to become a commercial solicitor, specialising in Real Estate/Commercial Property.

I’ve suffered from severe anxiety over the past year, especially with COVID, and I also needed a temporary place to stay. Leeds Beckett helped me with both problems immediately. My Academic Advisor wrote me a supporting statement which allowed me to defer one of my assessments and sit it later in the year, with the full range of marks available. The Student Money team housed me in emergency accommodation free of charge, within a week of letting them know my situation. I’ve loved being at uni and if I could choose again, I’d still choose Leeds Beckett.