“I’ve grown to love the UK just as much as Barcelona”

Alex Jimenez Mendoza is graduating this week with a BSc Business Psychology degree. This is his #BBKgrad story. 

Alex Jimenez Mendoza

The first time I visited the UK in 2008 I instantly fell in love with the country – it’s diversity and its tea and coffee drinking culture. I decided to move to London in 2012, to continue my job as a technician for Formula One but instead be based in the UK rather than Spain.

I loved my Formula One job and the travelling around the world that came with it but after a short time I decided I wanted to pursue my dream of becoming a student at a university in London. I vividly remember wandering around the streets surrounding Birkbeck and seeing students coming in and out of the buildings, wishing I was one of them, but worrying that I wasn’t good enough.

In 2016 I decided I should put aside my fears and I applied to study BSc Business Psychology (part-time). I was convinced Birkbeck was the right university for me as I could work and study at the same time and gain a prestigious University of London degree. Soon after I applied, I was offered a place – this was definitely one of the most exciting times of my life.

I started my degree in October 2016. The first year was quite challenging due to the language barrier, but I was so motivated to learn. The lecturers were very supportive and the quality of teaching was always excellent. Throughout my four-year part-time degree, I managed to balance working in luxury retail and studying, and I also learned to better manage my disability (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

I loved my time at Birkbeck so much I’m now enrolled onto a Master’s degree – MSc Management with International Business. I’m only a few weeks into the course but I’m already finding it is helping me to broaden my knowledge and open my horizons to future careers. I would advise international students considering studying at Birkbeck to go for it and not be put off by the language barrier – instead it should motivate and inspire you. Also, Birkbeck is so diverse – you will meet such a range of people. I’ve definitely grown to love the UK just as much as Barcelona, if not more!

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Birkbeck student graduates with a first after a coma left her unable to read or write

Odessa Hamilton is graduating today with a first class honours degree in BSc Business Psychology after recovering from trauma that left her comatose. This is her #BBKStory.

I ran a successful business in New York, but that all changed when I suffered a trauma and went into a coma.

The doctors did not expect my recovery, but when I woke, I had lost the ability to move from my mouth down. Speaking, reading, walking: I had to re-learn it all. As if recovering from that wasn’t enough, I then decided to apply to university.

The first year was tough. Having to re-learn how to read meant ordinary tasks presented a real challenge. Initially, I couldn’t decipher between words like ‘cite’ and ‘site’, never mind get to grips with complex vocabulary expected of you as a university student.

Birkbeck gave me the platform to do what would not have been possible anywhere else. Evening study meant I could continue to go to my countless hospital appointments for treatments, tests and therapies during the day. Lecturers and all other staff at Birkbeck were always incredibly supportive and willing to help wherever necessary, which proved invaluable!

My lecturers truly encouraged me to continue my studies, and facilitated such by supporting my applications. After graduating with a first class honours degree at Birkbeck, I chose to study a combined Masters in Psychological Sciences as part of the Brain Faculty at UCL to secure my BPS accreditation. Thereafter, my studies shall continue with a doctorate in psychoneuroimmunology.

My unsolicited advice for anyone considering university with a disability and/or a chronic illness is ‘don’t be afraid to be vulnerable’. We often fear being different or being seen as less than, but your condition is not something to overcome – it just is. No different from someone having to wear prescription glasses. If I can study and do well in my situation, anyone can. All it takes is tenacity, diligence and resilience [and perhaps a dry sense of humour to help you along the way].

I don’t make comparisons and I don’t feel sorry for myself: I just get on with doing my best.

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