Teenage story an inspiration for young people – FE News – Natural Self Esteem

@edgehill – A Lancashire teenager is encouraging more young people to explore university life after a careers advice program helped her take steps towards her dream job.

Jahnaya Alexander, 18, of Skelmersdale, will start at Edge Hill University later this year after support from Future U’s mentoring program helped her decide on her next steps after leaving college.

Back in 2019, Jahnaya took part in a Future U mentoring program when she was at Up Holland High School, which encouraged her to think about her future after graduation and the educational paths to gain the qualifications for her dream job as a physical education teacher.

Jahnaya admits she lacked focus before starting the Future U mentoring program, where college-starting colleagues worked with her on an eight-week program designed to help her think about a future career and the steps forward thinking about what she would need towards her dream role.

“Before the mentoring program, I hadn’t really thought about my future,” says Jahnaya. “If anything, my only intention was to go straight to work as soon as possible, but after hearing about the sessions everything changed for me.

“I was teaching some dance at the time, but I never saw it as a profession and would have laughed if you had told me at the time I could go to university.”

The mentoring sessions included team building activities, future analysis and hearings on the different career paths, including the benefits of a university degree. Future U works across Lancashire to encourage more people to consider higher education, particularly in communities and families where young people are less likely to think about university. In addition to support, it also offers advice on measures such as training, information on everyday student life and on handling student financing.

For Jahnaya, the sessions have not only helped her clarify her future aspirations, but with the goal of qualifying for college and then university, her school performance has also improved. Teachers found that Jahnaya was more ambitious as she completed her thesis and exam revision to achieve the results she needed to begin an Advanced Level 3 Diploma in Sport, Fitness and Personal Training at West Lancashire College.

She continues, “During the mentoring sessions, I realized I could be successful in what I wanted to do and decided that if I worked towards becoming a qualified physical education teacher, I would help people and inspire others .”

Three years after the mentorship, Jahnaya now has a conditional offer to study physical education at Edge Hill University in September. As well as finding her own career path, Jahnaya wants to give back to the community with hopes of becoming a Future U mentor for similar students who are unsure of their next steps. She hopes her story will help inspire more young people who are unsure about their career aspirations to find meaning in life so they can work hard towards it.

“I’ve already done a few mentors with young people and friends from my school will keep in touch with me as their mentor – some have recently called me to tell me about their mock exam results. Mentoring has grown me as a person and as I see the best in every child I want to bring that out to other young people who are unsure of their next steps.”

Since the project began in 2017, Future U has conducted over 1,100 career activities in 70 schools and colleges across the region, as well as creating a range of educational and career resources that can be downloaded from its website.

Oliver Norris, Senior Outreach Officer at Future U, said: “Jahnaya’s story should be an inspiration to any young person who is unsure of what to do with their future.

“Every young person has a passion that could lead to a future career or qualification they are passionate about and our mentoring program allows young people from similar backgrounds to provide important advice on where to go next.

“Jahnaya will be an amazing student mentor this year and I’m sure she will inspire many others to focus on opportunities for them when they finish school or college.”

Part of the national Uni Connect programme, funded by the Office for Students, Future U involves institutions and organizations across the county including the University of Central Lancashire, Lancaster University, Edge Hill University and the University of Cumbria. The list of partners also includes Blackburn College, Blackpool Sixth Form College, Blackpool and Fylde College, Burnley College, Kendal College, Lancashire County Council, Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Myerscough College, Nelson and Colne College Group , Preston College, STEMFirst and Runshaw College, Lancashire Colleges, West Lancashire College.

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