Graduation is an important milestone for every student. The day offers an opportunity to share and celebrate the completion of years of hard work with family, friends and fellow coursemates.
However, for some students who are estranged from their families or those who come from a care background, graduation is not such a straightforward experience. Estrangement means having little or no contact with family. There can be a number of causes of estrangement, such as severe clashes in values and beliefs with parents and relatives, which leave people without the support and approval of a close family network. As a result, estranged students and care leavers often struggle with stress and money issues throughout their time at university and therefore risk being unable to attend this watershed day due to financial barriers or because they simply feel excluded due to their personal circumstances.
The Hallam Fund aims to remove the financial challenges preventing some students from attending graduation. The bursary helps to pay for the ceremony tickets, hiring a graduation gown and covers the cost of official photographs. By providing this, students from estranged and care leaver backgrounds can celebrate equitably alongside their peers.
For Ella Fage, having the support of the Hallam Fund for graduation reduced a lot of the stress associated with planning the day.
She says, 'My mum really wanted to come to the ceremony. Having this bursary just made me worry less about the cost of everything. She flew up from Cornwall - she's got M.E. so the train wasn't a good idea - so she was able to spend less money on coming up.'
Ella was one of the first students we spoke to when we launched the Hallam Fund in 2016 and has made the most of her time at Sheffield Hallam. She graduated with a BA (Hons) in Media and has started studying for an MA in Public Relations, as well as working for a Public Relations firm.
For Maisie Lakisha Bryan, attending her graduation was an important day to feel proud.
She says, ‘The most exciting part of my day was putting on my gown. Wearing the gown feels so different to holding my award. It takes it to a whole other level and it makes me feel amazing and so proud of myself.’
Maisie was the first in her family to go to university and has now graduated with a BSc (Hons) in Physical Education and School Sport. She is now working towards earning her PGCE qualification and is looking forward to a career teaching primary school children.
With the help of the Hallam Fund, all students can mark the end of their studies and create lasting memories at their graduation. To find out more about how donations to the Hallam Fund are supporting students, regardless of their family situation, click here.