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When you start any course of study there is the inevitable

‘Now, let’s go around in a circle and find out a little about you – what you have done and why are you here?’

The shy members of the group look at the floor in terror, the confident start clearing their throats for their pre-rehearsed Soliloquy.

I am a little obsessed with the latter question. I could have been mistaken for Jeremy Paxman at our first lesson ‘Why are you here?’ I would ask, abruptly and repeatedly, to wary looking newcomers. It intrigues me – especially as I am in a class full of ‘mature students’.

If you had asked me at my first lesson as an undergraduate Business Studies student at Sheffield Hallum University ‘Why are you here?’ I would have answered

‘I’m not sure, Business Studies is the best degree to help you get a job, apparently’

A few weeks later at Birmingham City University, transferred onto an English Language and Literature degree ‘Why are you here?’

‘Well, the choices given to me by my parents were ‘University or death’, so I chose University – and English is my favourite subject’

Years later on a teaching post graduate degree at the University of Wolverhampton if asked “Why are you here?” I would have said

I think that teaching is what I am meant to do’

In present day, on my Masters course – I found that some people were there to become more knowledgeable about their chosen career field, some were just looking for something new to do, and some were after a change, a promotion and therefore, more money. And I would fall in to this last category. After working for several years and not really getting anywhere.. higher. I thought another qualification might help. And that word – ‘qualification’ is, I suppose, how I saw it. How fast can I get this qualification? Was my main query – and what can I do to get promoted?

Until a lecture that was to change my life.

It has been a long time since I was truly ‘inspired’. It is in question as to whether I have truly ever been ‘inspired’ – but my first lesson in a particular module was to not only inspire me but knock me sideways. After the first two hours I felt as though I had been slapped in the face. Everything I thought I knew about what I had been doing in my career was put into question. Several light bulbs clicked on in a mind that had laid dormant for some time and suddenly ‘ambition’ washed over me; Pure ambition, – not just an aim for a larger pay packet; A delightful desire to learn more, become more inspired and to stop merely trying to work in a system – but to change that very system entirely.

So maybe that’s why we are here? Really. All of us – at University;

To be inspired.

Stephanie Siviter


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