I’ve always been ambitious. I knew that I wanted to study politics, aim high, and one day become an MP and be able to represent the people in my community. However as a young person with a disability, choosing a university is not a decision to take lightly.
You have to consider things that others probably don’t: accessibility, open mindedness, even transport and distance between facilities. Good thing then that I found ARU, which has set the bar pretty high for itself.
One of the best things about studying politics here is how varied people on the course are. We all share a love of the subject, but rarely do we share the same views. It forces you to question your own opinions and gives you a chance to see things from other perspectives, which is so important if, one day, you do want to try and make a difference. Knowing your view is one thing, but being able to empathise with someone else’s is another entirely.
As a young person with a disability, choosing a university is not a decision to take lightly. You have to consider things [like] accessibility, open mindedness. Good thing then that I found ARU, which has set the bar pretty high for itself.
While I’m enjoying studying the subject broadly, like most politicians I do of course have a specific area that motivates me. Having a voice within disability politics is really important to me at the moment, so though my disability can make things more difficult at times, it also drives me forward. Learning more about the political system has encouraged me to get involved at a grassroots level as a member of my party’s local association.
This on-the-ground activism has been amazing. It gives you the chance to engage with people from all walks of life and try to work together to improve things. It’s also led me to become involved in student politics. I successfully campaigned to become the Disability Rep for the Students' Union Executive, which will give me a real chance to help ensure that the opinions of fellow disabled students are heard.
My brand of politics is very practical. It’s been said that people don’t cause disability, society does and, if there weren’t any barriers, there wouldn’t be such a thing as disability. A lot of what I’m about is trying to remove as many of these barriers as possible. Not just physical ones in the form of stairs, but social ones too - the way we think about, and treat, disabled people.
Now that I’m on the Exec I’ve already started putting my ideas forward, like the idea of producing guides that show where disabled students can find access points or even which bars or venues are well-suited. When I first came to Cambridge, I’d be invited to social events but not know if I’d be able to get in the building or use a toilet once I got there. People often think that politics is all about big philosophical decisions but, just by putting such a guide in the hands of a disabled student, you’ve potentially taken hours of stressful decision making out of their day. That’s politics in action.
It’s thanks to ARU that I’ve found this confidence and now I have a career path that I hope will take me all the way to becoming an MP and representing my local area. Following my gut instinct and deciding to study what I had a passion for is now taking me to incredible places, so if I could give anyone thinking about university one piece of advice it would be: if you’ve got a passion for something then, without question, you should pursue it.
Grant studies BA (Hons) Politics in Cambridge. Come along to our next Open Day to find out more about courses and student life at ARU.