‘Foster experienced’ student’s life is transformed because “QMU believed in me” A FINAL YEAR Podiatry student who transformed his life through university education has been presented with an award from the UK’s leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network. Daniel Pauley, a twenty five year old Podiatry student from the Scottish Borders, was presented with the award of ‘Outstanding Achievement in Education’ at the Fostering Excellence Awards in London. Daniel, who left school at the tender age of 15 with hardly any qualifications, has used his university education to transform his life and train for a career in healthcare where he could help others. His recent success on BSc (Hons) Podiatry at QMU was recognised by the Fostering Excellence Award. The boy who had been written off in his teenage years had won an award for attaining the highest clinical grade in his year group (Level 3 Clinical Studies prize in 2016-17) at QMU. His lecturer, Evelyn Weir, who is also a foster carer herself, nominated Daniel for the award. She was overjoyed to discover that he had actually won. Evelyn knows only too well what an accomplishment it is for Daniel to have made it onto a degree programme. She said: “We are very proud of QMU’s reputation in widening access and in supporting students from all backgrounds to achieve their full potential. We all need to work together to help transform lives and I am pleased that Daniel is finding QMU to be a good fit. He is clearly enjoying his university journey and thriving within it. “Daniel left school with very little in the way of qualifications, but through hard work, resilience and determination, he started from scratch by going back to college and is now in his final year of his university studies.” Daniel explained: “When I was at school there was really no support and it was very disheartening. I’d had a lot of difficulties at home and I At the end of October, Daniel travelled to London to take part in the prestigious only 6% of children in foster care go on to didn’t get any encouragement from the ceremony in Westminster where he university level education compared to 43% teachers, so I had no self-belief. It was no surprise that I didn’t do well academically. received his award during an afternoon of people who have not been fostered But I eventually realised two things – I tea reception. It was the first time that he loved helping people and I enjoyed health had visited the capital so he was pleased that his flatmate and fellow final year Podiatry student, Katherine and fitness, so I picked myself up, went back to college and got Moffatt, was able to join him as his guest and share the experience. an HND. That helped me get a place at QMU on the BSc (Hons) Now in their fourth year, the Fostering Excellence Awards provide Podiatry, and I’ve never looked back. a fantastic opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the young people, foster carers, social workers and others who make a positive contribution to the fostering community. The Fostering Network’s chief executive, Kevin Williams, was particularly keen to mark the achievements of some of the young people in the UK who have been fostered. He said: “We believe that with the right support, particularly from foster carers, care experienced young people can truly thrive.” Daniel spent some of his life in foster care. Sadly, only 6% of children in foster care go on to university level education compared to 43% of people who have not been fostered,and so it was indeed a great achievement when Daniel secured his place on the podiatry degree at QMU. 22 QMYOU / Student Feature “As a foster child, you can be easily cast off. If no-one believes in you, then you don’t believe in yourself. But my experience at QMU has completely transformed my life. I am shocked at how much help and support is available – from financial support through bursaries, which means I should complete my degree without building up massive debt - to the incredible support of the academics and professional services staff. They are totally invested in helping students be all they can be. At last, I’ve found people who believe in me, so I can start believing in myself.” Daniel continued: “As a student of QMU, I am no longer overlooked - I am more than just a number. I have people who are 100% behind me and are helping me achieve my goals. This encouragement means I’ve developed a passion for learning and I always keep classes running late because I ask so many questions.