Happy New Year to all our readers! It's a time of the year when we often think about whether we should make New Year's resolutions and then if we do whether we can actually keep it longer than the month of January! Our Career blogs over the next few days will feature a recent graduate, Keon Richardson, who did decide to make some changes to the way he did things during his student life and for him personally this helped him to go on and achieve many awards that he had not thought possible at the start of his journey. Keon wrote a blog on his experiences at University and so over the next couple of weeks we will be featuring different aspects of his blog. Find out how Keon successfully managed his time to achieve what he wanted from his University experience. Read his tips for succeeding, his low points and how he handled this, and the challenges of being a black student at a University like Bath.
Keon Richardson graduated 2017 from the University of Bath with a Second-Class First Division Bachelors Art Honours Degree in Sport and Social Sciences with the Bath Award and Half Blues Award. By the end of 2017 Keon started his dream job as the new Disability Officer at Palace for Life Foundation.
"My four years at Bath has been special and full of memories that I will cherish forever. I was the only student from the University of Bath to complete a professional placement at QPR in the Community Trust; to achieve the London FA and The FA Young Volunteer of the Year; the only student from the University of Bath Football and Futsal Club this season to be presented with the Half Blues Award; and one of two University of Bath students to represent Team Bath in the Zambia IDEALS Project last year and compete for Bristol City in the FA National Super League. Last summer I was awarded a football coaching scholarship by Team Archie to shadow a football coach educator deliver Premier Skills across China and support the delivery of the Federation of University Sports of China High School Girls’ Football Final from 22nd July for four weeks.
Despite the amazing accolades, I was hugely frustrated of just missing out on a First-Class Degree. Nevertheless, I am personally proud of my own personal development over my four years of academic study. As hectic as my studies and extra-curricular activities sound, it gave me discipline to prioritize my time wisely and balance “work and play”. And with God’s grace and a plan of action, I received a First in my 15,000 word dissertation.
The purpose of my blog is not to impress you that I received a 2.1; my message is to impress upon you that you have greatness within you more than you are currently expressing. You have something special in you that eyes have not seen, ears have not heard, nor hearts that have not felt. I know from my own personal life that anything is possible if you have a vision and you are dedicated to working every day to make that vision into a reality. I went to a state school in North London where I was told more about my limitations than my potential. “You’re not socially ready to go to University”; “You’ve never been in an academy. How can you play at University Futsal First Team Level?”; “You’ll never get into Bath”. This was a typical reaction that both students and teachers threw at me to derail me from going after my dreams to both study sport and play first team futsal full-time. As a young black male living in Tottenham (London Borough of Haringey) which is outlined as “one of the most deprived authorities in England and ranks as the most deprived in terms of crime” by the Department for Communities and Local Government, drugs, gang wars, knife crime, and robbery has been impinged on myself and other young people throughout our adolescence. But I got to a point where I realized that I should not deprive myself from obtaining knowledge nor experiencing the best life that has to offer just because I live in deprivation. Adding further to the plight, the Independent Commission on Social Mobility highlighted that “there are more young black men in prison in the UK than there are UK-domiciled undergraduate black male students attending Russell Group institutions”. In the summer 2007, I was robbed for my Sony Ericsson and Apollo Mountain Bike by one of Tottenham's rivalry gangs and that was the day that I decided that I won't fall into this type of lifestyle and I will overcome this negativity.
When I began University in 2013 I decided to set my goals high and aimed to receive a First Class in my degree. In the moment, I set that goal for the sake of it. However, between finishing my placement year at QPR in the Community Trust and preparing to coach football in Zambia, my motivation to receive a First was to take my work ethic to another level that I had not been to before. I realized that to get a First I would have to do things I had never done before, such as: preparing lists of questions for my Dissertation Supervisor; reading Books and Journal Articles with a close analytical eye; sticking to a weekly work schedule; working on days that I didn’t have lectures; and setting myself personal deadlines to finish my essays. What I have now come to believe is when you set extremely high goals for yourself, who you become in the process is much more important than the goal itself.
Even if you don't achieve the goal, your personal development through the process outweighs the goal itself. I know that's easier said than done. I cried and was very upset for most of the day when I received the email stating that I received a 2.1 and not a First. However, I am slowly coming to understand that the person I've matured into physically, mentally, spiritually and socially over the past four years at University is greater than a First Class written on a piece of paper. So how did I do this?! Over the next few days I will share with you my eleven tips to achieve your best in whatever you are studying……"