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Renell Harding
Swansea University Graduate
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I was born in London, and very soon after my birth, I had fluid on the brain from an accident and was treated at Great Ormond street hospital. This was my first  obstacle, an obstacle that I will live with forever. It would later be discovered (before I went to nursery) that I had autism and speech and language difficulties. Whilst today neither of these is noticeable to most people, they still affect me academically and socially. 

 

My mum found it very difficult to cope financially raising my younger sister and myself, and at times she would work multiple jobs to provide for me and my sister. In 2011, when I was 13 and in year 8, my mum, my sister and I were evicted and made homeless. We were homeless in the sense that we moved from a variety of locations, from houses of mum’s friends, to Bed and Breakfasts’, we never had a fixed address. At the time, and for the next 5 years, I was very embarrassed by this experience. However, my experience of being homeless was life-changing for me. Being homeless and seeing my mum struggle made me realise that life isn’t a joke, and that if I did not want to have to experience being homeless ever again, or be in great financial difficulty, I had to try my absolute best to give it my all. This realization lit a fire in my belly that despite not being academically the smartest due to my learning difficulty, that I was going to give my all to my education, in order to give myself a fighting chance of making something of myself in this thing that we call life. This new found attitude I had carried through year 9, 10 and 11 resulted in me getting descent  GCSE grades. 

 

In my two-years doing my A Levels, after a rough year 12 I finished year 13 with an A* in History and a C in Government and Politics, to study History at Swansea University. Being able to secure a place at university was a massive achievement for me, as I was the only in my immediate family to do so, but also because I proved to myself that I was truly academically able. 

 

In February 2015, I experienced my second life-changing experience (a positive and permanent experience), when I became a scholar of the Amos Bursary. The Bursary helps gifted boys of African and Caribbean origin, to realise their potential academically and professionally. However most importantly, the Amos Bursary introduced me to like-minded, hard-working, intelligent black boys (who are all doing  fantastic things from studying a year at Harvard University and featuring on the Forbes 30 under 30 magazine, to doing internships at places like Rolls Royce, Goldman Sachs, securing Jobs at Google and JP Morgan, to studying at Oxford and Cambridge, to featuring on rare rising top 10 Black students list, the list goes on and on), that I truly consider them all as my brothers, as my second family. Since joining the Amos Bursary family my life has changed. 

 

Lastly, I continue to weight train at the gym. Weight training for me has been hugely beneficial for me in multiple ways. It has allowed me to become more disciplined and live a quite structured way of life. It has allowed me to become mentally stronger, allowing me to cope with the challenges and ‘downs’ that life throws at me. 

 

 

Since graduating from Swansea University with a 2:1 in History (BA) in July 2019, I went on to successfully crowdfund over £18,000 in August 2019 to raise funds to study the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at The University of Law (London Bloomsbury campus). The GDL is a law conversion course that non-law aspiring lawyers such as myself study to pursue a career in law. As a true introvert who isn’t the most vocal on social media, putting my entire life journey in my crowdfund campaign story and making it public, as well as making digital social media content (with the help of fellow Amos Bursary graduate Tyreese Hines) of my different life experiences was very nerve racking! However, with the support of friends, mentors, many of my fellow Amos bursary scholars and my wider network combined with my perseverance and determination, I was able to make my crowdfund campaign a success. In particular, the visibility of my crowdfund campaign attracted the attention of The University of Law and the John Bennett Trust. As a result, both the University of Law and the John Bennett Trust offered me scholarships which greatly contributed to the costs of the GDL.

 

After my crowdfund campaign, I studied the GDL at The University of Law. The GDL was a very intense course as its three years of a law degree condensed into one year. Furthermore, doing just under half of the GDL/the 2nd semester of the GDL during the covid-19 pandemic lockdown was extremely challenging. However, I passed the GDL and graduated in July 2021. As of now, I am currently working for the National Citizenship Service (NCS) while I continue to pursue a career in law as a commercial lawyer by applying for law training contracts. Outside of my career ambitions to be a commercial lawyer, I have done public speaking engagements at schools over London (including my secondary school Preston Manor School in Brent, London) and universities about my journey.

 

 

I will forever be grateful to those that have helped me along my journey in any way possible and accepted me for who I am.  I like to think that, the main thing that anyone can learn from my story is that it does not matter where you start in life, you can still go places and do great things and that you do not have to be “gifted” to achieve what you want to achieve.