Introducing Team Spotlight – get to know AccessHE


Here at AccessHE, we work hard. We support young people, regardless of their background or circumstance, to progress into, successfully through, and out of, higher education (HE).

But who exactly is “we“?

Introducing Team Spotlight – a light-hearted addition to our monthly Connect e-bulletin (open to all – subscribe to it here) where you can learn about who we are at AccessHE and what we’ve been up to in the past month.

This month our spotlight shone to reveal… the personalities, music tastes, wise words and motivations of the team.

Describe your role in 1 sentence.

Tanyel: Through our action forums, I help our members raise aspirations, ensure success and achieve outcomes for underrepresented groups in, or thinking about entering, HE.

Richard: As AccessHE Deputy Head, I oversee the operational delivery of AccessHE’s projects and take a lead role in engagement with members, partners and potential collaborators.

Vanessa: I work on the AccessHE Online Project, a suite of online courses aimed at learners in year 9 and above, the production of the AccessHE Creative HE Apply Guide, an information, advice and guidance resource for young people wishing to pursue a Creative Arts subject at higher education level; and the AccessHE Summer School programme.

Naz: I work on the AccessHE London NCOP with my colleagues Barbora, Kay and Teni which includes the delivery of taster sessions delivered by our member HEIs and partner organisations to our cohorts of Y9 – Y13 students.

Finish the sentence: “I do what I do because…”

Tanyel: Coming from an underrepresented background myself, I fully believe that opportunity, education or careers, should be based on merit, not how much your family earns or the area you grew up in. It’s important to remove barriers and build confidence in young people, making them realise HE and the opportunities it gives you are attainable rather than an unreachable dream.

Vanessa: I do what I do because, being from an immigrant background with no history of HE and having grown up in an environment where conversations around HE were not common, I know first-hand some of the barriers that might impact participation in HE. 

Richard: I have always had an interest in widening access and providing opportunities to underrepresented young people, stemming from my own university days when I was a student ambassador in Leeds.

What song would be the soundtrack to your life and why?

Teni: This is a difficult question. There’s honestly too many songs to choose from. How am I meant to pick one?! I need a whole album to be honest. If I HAD to pick one, I’d go with Greatest Day by Take That. To me it’s about living each day to the fullest and making the most of life and that’s something I hope to do.

Tanyel: Love Yourz by J. Cole – a song with an uplifting message reminding us that health, happiness and loved ones are the most important things in this world. Or A Pencil Full of Lead by Paolo Nutini. You cannot help but smile while listening to it!

Vanessa: Shine On You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd – because it’s a song about continuing to be yourself and thrive, even if others would hold you down or try to change you.

If you could go back and meet your 16-year-old self, facing decisions about your future education/career, what advice would you give?

Vanessa: I would tell my 16-year-old self that it’s not all academic. Keep up the saxophone lessons, get involved in more clubs and societies at college and later at HE. This will help keep you well-rounded stop you from living for the grade. Also, take that Latin course at college… or you’ll find yourself in autumn 2018 beginning a PhD in Medieval History and having to learn it from scratch!

Barbora: I would tell 16-year-old B to plan ahead, get in touch with and learn from the people who have a career which I am aspiring towards and to persevere.

Kay: Don’t be afraid to create opportunities and take chances. Keep a notebook to record the dates of experiences / courses / job roles so you have the information easily at hand. Seek out songs to represent your life (and to play at your funeral!)

Naz: Keep your options open!