Louise Evans studied on the Community Development & Youth Work BA (Hons) programme, graduating with first class honours in 2009.
I first attended Ruskin in 2005. I had completed my first year of a part-time three year Foundation Degree in Youth and Community Work at another university and moved house. I transferred to Ruskin to complete years 2 and 3 to gain my JNC status.
It was a big move for me, from the north to the south of the country, and with no family and friends nearby, I immediately felt welcomed and being at Ruskin made the transition in both my work and personal life much easier. I felt at home.
I liked the fact that Ruskin was different to other higher education institutions. It was small, friendly and very focused on student support. I also got to study aspects of Youth Work that were not available on other courses, such as Law and Welfare Rights which proved extremely beneficial to my role as a Detached Youth Worker.
I graduated for the first time in 2007 as a qualified Youth Worker with the JNC status that I hold dear. However, it didn’t end there!
From 2007 to 2008 I kept close links with the College and became involved with the process of the university applying to run a course with honours. This was my dream. The possibility of being able to accelerate my qualification to a BA (Hons) was a fantastic opportunity. I already had my professional status, but Ruskin had given me the learning bug and I wanted to take my education further.
So, in 2008, a few students embarked on the maiden voyage that was the BA (Hons) qualification.
Again, as I worked full-time, I chose to study on a part-time basis. So, every Friday, I crossed the county borders of Buckinghamshire to venture back to Oxford on a mission to complete my honours within an academic year. It was touch and go, there were tears, but most importantly laughter, especially during the group work project, which my fellow alumni and I fondly referred to as ‘sausagegate’, due to a barbecue disaster!
My colleagues on the course eventually decided that a two year route to completion was the way forward, but I was having none of that. So in 2009, I hired a cap and gown and through blood, sweat and tears, I gave it my all and graduated again, with first class honours, all by myself.
For the past ten years, I have kept close links with Ruskin, the staff and other students and supported national campaigns such as In Defence of Youth Work.
I have continued to work with young people and children, in various roles, mainly middle-management, but wherever possible still incorporating a face-to-face intervention with young people in both educational settings and youth support, depending where the work is.
I did take a couple of years out to have a family and dabble with teaching, but the pull of a Youth Work job recently tempted me back to the frontline services and I couldn’t be happier.
Throughout all of this, my passion for supporting others and fighting to save much needed services has never faded, and those ethics are probably something I very much owe to Ruskin.