I’m Bryony. I’m a second-year undergrad student
here at the University of Southampton. I study law. I’m really enjoying the course. It’s
amazing. I’ve made so many new friends. It’s just been an amazing place to study. So the young Bryony loved school, loved learning, but never thought that she would ever go to university. It wasn’t something that I thought would be possible to do, or something that would
just be within my reach. Growing up, I had a really difficult childhood.
I had a really lovely mom and I have two brothers who are my best friends in the whole wide
world. I love them to bits. But my dad was not the best father he could’ve been. He was quite an abusive and
violent, and manipulative man And when I got to about 15, things really
took a turn to the worse. My brothers and I were placed on the Child Protection Register,
very, very close to being removed from the home ourselves. I remember almost feeling numb. And I feel like I really didn’t start to register what
had happened until I was about 17. By the time that we were really trying to get my
dad out of the house, he had run up a load of debts. So we were also dealing with bailiffs
and debt collectors. I realised that there really was nobody willing to help us.
And when I was 15, I was standing in court giving statements because I had never had any experience
with that before. But I just remember sitting there like, I
want to be the person that makes this change, because this is awful. I would say trying
to get legal aid is actually a lot more challenging than you think it would be, which is something
that I’m really interested in becoming involved in the future. And pro bono work, and trying
to do anything that you can to help people who may be in similar situations.
I knew Southampton was here. But I think it was something that I originally shied away
from, because it was so close to home. And I almost felt as if I wouldn’t get the full
university experience if I didn’t move away. Though I did come here. I did come to the
open day. It was one of the last universities I came to. And I loved it. You really get
a sense of what your law degree is like from the moment you walk in here. And I struggled. Especially because at the time, prior to the scholarship, I was working in
retail. Some weeknights and also working weekends, which was difficult. Your weekend is the
perfect time to get on with work. And so because I was working the majority of those, really
I was going to lectures and tutorials unprepared. So prior to the scholarship, I was really,
really struggling to maintain that balance. Not all students come here from good financial
backgrounds. It’s not realistic to expect that. At the
end of the day, everyone does worry about their financial situation. You have to be
able to support yourself, especially when you consider costs of books.
I’ve bought books that are up to £70. And that’s just one. I was really upset. And I did go
to my friends and I said, I don’t really simply know if I can continue studying here. And it almost felt like everybody had been given this break. And it was something so
amazing that we never even knew was possible. My mom is just so proud. It’s something that
I feel like we’re all so grateful for still. It feels like I was still given it yesterday.
It gave me so much more confidence. And it also meant that I had more time. It just meant
that I was able to strike a much more healthy balance between work and social life. I’m
a lot more hopeful for the future. I feel like the scholarship will be giving
me so many more opportunities. I do think it really will demonstrate how passionate
I am about the subject. I just want him to know that I appreciate everything that he is doing. And he has changed my life in ways that I don’t even think he would’ve realised,
because they’re such personal differences to me. But a massive thank you. I thank you
a million times over, because you have changed my life completely.