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Student Snapshot – Aaron Speak

Aaron Speak is currently studying the LLB (Hons) Law Full time at our Manchester campus. He tells us all about his dreams of becoming a barrister, gaining confidence after knockbacks and being Manchester Campus’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Society President.

By Elsa Tatam. Published 8 April 2024.

I knew that I wanted to go to university since I was around 12 years old. Before that point I had never really thought seriously about my plans, however, I knew I wished to be a barrister. Once I had set my mind to this, I decided to start working on finding the right university for me. I then found out about The University of Law and set my heart on it for the practical value of their LLB and BPC.

Ever since high school, I have had a passion for helping those in need, who often aren’t equipped to help themselves. As a result, a career in law and speaking for those who might otherwise struggle, is of massive appeal to me.

 

However, getting to this point hasn’t been without any obstacles. The main stumbling block for me came on A Level Results Day. With the government reverting to stricter boundaries akin to 2019, many students including myself were left with grades far lower than predicted. Whilst I was fortunately able to still attend The University of Law, it was a real knock to my confidence. Luckily, I was surrounded by an amazing community that helped me refocus and realise how A levels were ultimately just a stepping stone. Since that time, I have benefitted from the holistic approach at The University of Law. The various assessment methods on the LLB allow me to excel in my strengths as an autistic student, rather than suffer through my weaknesses. In my first semester’s assessments, I earned Firsts in all 3 modules, so I have been able to start my second semester with revived self-confidence knowing that my earlier struggles were because I was simply in a situation that was incompatible with my skillset. This helped me reflect on why I chose The University of Law in the first place and was great in reminding me of my ability- my grades at A level aren’t representative of my ability on the LLB and one knockback doesn’t define you.

 

Since joining the university, I have thrived. My first day at university was surprisingly easy- I took to university life like a duck to water. I also had a good understanding of the campus layout already, thanks to the support from the Disability and Inclusion team.

I have also been massively supported by the friendships and community I have created. While I might only have a small circle of friends, each has contributed greatly to my university experience and I am grateful to each of them. The connections I have made in my time at ULaw have undoubtedly changed my life for the better.

 

I have recently been reading more about Buddhist philosophy, and it has really impacted my worldview. I decided to subscribe to Buddhist philosophy in the last few weeks of my final year at college, and this has very much affected how I value both positive and negative experiences, and how I see others and the world. I find the philosophy to be a great source of comfort and an aid to my mental health.

 

With this in mind, I chose to found Manchester’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Society. Like everyone, I’ve been affected by poor mental health, yet I hadn’t seen a society made primarily to support student mental health and wellbeing. Nearly 93% of young adults have felt overwhelmed or unable to cope at some point, though mental health is still overlooked by those in government. I led mental health events before starting at The University of Law, and once I became a Mental Health First Aider this was something I was determined to bring to campus. In my role as a Class Representative, I found out that the Wellbeing department has seen rising numbers of students seeking support so that also motivated me to try and make a difference. Research shows a link between social cohesion and rates of mental health problems; more cohesion generally means lower rates of problems, so that’s what the Society’s all about- awareness, acceptance, and campus community cohesion.

 

The Society has had a massive impact on both me and my time at university so far. Whilst it does fill up my time with meetings and events, I find that it is the best form of compensation as I see the tangible difference we can and do create on campus. The committee and I have seen positive changes in ourselves too, building soft skills through experiences we wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to. 

 

In five years, I hopefully see myself settled in my first six of a pupillage. However, due to my prior experiences and the life lessons I have learnt, I won’t be disheartened if this is not the case.  Everything happens for a reason, and it is important to focus on the present moment.

 

If you want to make a positive change like Aaron, learn more about studying LLB Law with us or if you want to see more real-life student experiences, head over to Live Prospectus.