I have considered for a long time whether I should share part of my personal story openly.

I have come to the conclusion that my struggles over the past years may actually motivate somebody who might be on the fence of taking the route of advancing their education, despite their circumstances.

I am a single parent of three; my youngest daughter is autistic and has a rare chromosome disorder, which means she struggles with daily routines and needs a full-time carer (me). She is 9 years old now and I have taught her at home since she was 5 because there is no available school space for her in our city or surrounding area. In addition to home-schooling my youngest, I also operate an online-based micro-business, which specialises on helping business owners with their business and marketing strategy, content creation and implementation of social media marketing.

Six years ago, in spring 2011, I came to the UK with nothing but my three children (then 3, 9 and 14 years old) and the aim to advance and build something here. We literally started from scratch, initially living in a B&B (paid for with my savings) and then moving into a 2-bed flat and a year later into a 3-bed house. We had no furniture, cutlery or any other items, which meant I had to slowly purchase all necessities again.

At times, we didn’t even have enough money to buy food; it was a really difficult start. I also quickly learned that the qualifications I gained in Germany didn’t help me here; hence, I started my business instead and searched for a degree program to gain an academic qualification that is valued in the UK and elsewhere. I joined the BA (Hons) Business and Marketing degree programme in 2013 and although none of my family members live in the UK and I had no support during my studies, it did not stop me.

Prior to coming to the UK, I had spent almost a year in Ghana, where I had hoped to live for the rest of my life after my mother’s sudden death. However, I realised that I could not stay in Ghana due to visa issues, so I had to make a decision to either move back to Germany (where I am from originally) or elsewhere. My ex-partner is British, so I thought it may be a good idea to live in the UK.

What got me through my struggles was the knowledge that the BA degree will give me the necessary advantage to either join the job market or to use it to grow my business. Also, the weekly interaction with fellow students and my tutors and seeing the results I achieved with each module gave me the encouragement to continue, despite my emotional and financial struggles. Each of the assignments and the feedback I received gave me confidence that I am doing ’the right thing’ for myself and my children.

I strongly believe that anybody can succeed with anything they set their mind to, just as I did.

Ezzat Habra

You build many positive habits, like being very organised and punctual which is essential in many parts of life. It’s been a great journey filled with challenges and excitement.

Matt Clifton

At the time of starting the BA, I was 18 years old, and in my last year of college. It would have been really tough to access a campus-based university over an online study option.

Breshana Francis

The University of Essex Online law degree programme has developed and shaped my mind to think like a lawyer from the start of my studies.