Associate Feature: OU gives Carla fresh start
After a difficult start in life, Carla Belkevitz from Clydebank never imagined that university would ever happen for her. When Carla was kicked out of the house aged 14 years old, she felt that her life went “completely off the rails”. She explains: “I wasn’t going to school, or when I was in school, I was drinking and falling asleep at my desk. I wasn’t clothed properly. It was a horrific, terrible time. I managed to hang in there until I was 16 and left with some standard grades, but it was such a struggle.
“I went to Clydebank College aged 21 and gained three Highers. The night before my English exam I found out I was pregnant with my eldest son. So, my plans to go to university went out the window.”
Carla went back to college as a single parent and completed a Higher National Certificate (HNC). After applying to a brick university and being rejected, Carla started working with a young parents’ group in Glasgow. She says: “At that point I was tutoring kids in English and Maths and core skills and thought it was time for me to start learning again too. That’s when I got in touch with The Open University and started my degree – an OU Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Open Degree.”
She studied with the support of a part-time fee grant for students in Scotland with a personal income of £25,000 or less. “I was so lucky to gain a degree with no debt because I was eligible for the grant. There is no way I would have been able to study without it.”
Carla currently works for MND (Motor Neurone Disease) Scotland as an advocate, making sure that their clients receive the housing and services they urgently need.
“I feel really validated by gaining a degree. It’s changed how I feel about myself,” says Carla, aged 42. “The confidence boosts it’s given me are amazing. If there’s anyone out there who thinks it’s an insurmountable obstacle, then please don’t. The Open University is open to anyone.”
Carla recently passed her post grad certificate in global development with merit and will now continue on to complete the masters.
This article is sponsored by The Open University.