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Monday 20 September 2021

Determination is language of learning for Sam

Student who experienced ‘life in a soap opera’ achieves graduation dream

A student who overcame medical and financial issues, dealt with family bereavements and experienced the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic while on work placement in China, has graduated from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

Sam Murray, 29, from Margate in Kent achieved a 2:1 from the BA(Hons) Business Management and Chinese programme after a rollercoaster five years in higher education.

The tenacious graduate, who previously attended Hartsdown Technology College and Canterbury College, suffered from medical issues during his initial university degree which meant he couldn’t graduate.

And after enrolling at UCLan it was anything but plain sailing when the resourceful student worked as a labourer and then an activity instructor to fund the second year of his studies.

It was during his second year that Sam cared for his then partner who had suffered a minor stroke and towards the latter half of that academic year his mother passed away suddenly.

"Without the help and support of my lecturers I never would have made it beyond the first year. The staff at UCLan and those within the University’s Confucius Institute have been truly understanding, caring and compassionate. "

UCLan graduate Sam Murray

“I had to take out a loan and work part-time to pay for the funeral expenses as well as take care for my father,” explained Sam. “It didn’t get any easier the following year as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold during my placement in China. Fortunately I was able to find employment as a teacher at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies and although the conditions at that time were far from ideal it was certainly an experience which benefitted me greatly and validated my decision to study Chinese in the first place.

“In my final year I took time out again to care for my grandparents as I was the only person they could count on; my grandmother having suffered from a serious fall while my grandfather was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

“Now though, I’m so happy to graduate. Essentially the last five years feel like I’ve been experiencing life in a soap opera. Without the help and support of my lecturers I never would have made it beyond the first year. The staff at UCLan and those within the University’s Confucius Institute have been truly understanding, caring and compassionate.

“I feel I have made lifelong connections with these wonderful people and I hope to keep updating them with my progress as I work my way through the next chapters of my life. It’s all thanks to them that I’m here today and able to graduate.”

Sam received two job offers to teach in China both of which are now on the back burner due to a resurgence in Covid outbreaks. “While I wait for the pandemic to ease and political tensions to settle, I’m going to study for a PGCE to make the most of this gap year. Once completed, I’ll be qualified to teach English language at any high school in the UK. Having said that, the draw of China is very strong and I’d still love to teach out there one day.”