My name is Michelle and have been a Care Leaver for 5 years. I have always wanted to be an Art Teacher, and this is my story of how I have achieved my dream.

When I was placed into care, I wasn’t doing well academically in school. I was failing every subject and I felt I had no hope in passing any of my GCSE’S. I wanted to get into sixth form, and was told constantly by people around me that I wouldn’t be able to do it with my current performance.

However, being the resilient, stubborn individual that I am I decided to prove them wrong, I had the entirety of Year 11 (equivalent of 10 months) to change my failing grades to passing ones so my plan was just this!

With the help, love and support of my foster carers, I now had a stable home and the support system of them cheering me on which really helped me to be able to achieve that. Although it was a lot of hard work, I did manage to do it - woohoo!  I went from U’S and E’s to C’S and A*’s which was such a huge change for me. These grades got me into sixth form, and the grades I received in sixth form got me into University.

At university I studied a Bachelor Honours degree at the University of Lincoln in Fine Art and achieved an upper second class degree. Recently I have just finished my Master’s degree in Fine Art at the same University and have started a PGCE Teaching Degree at one of the top 10 teaching Universities in the UK.

Every step along the way, I was told that I wouldn’t be able to do it but this just encouraged me to work harder and prove people wrong. The prospect of a young person of the care system going to University is very rare. There are stereotypes and stigmas surrounding these young people that often lead them to believe that they won’t be successful in life. For me, I didn’t just want to prove people wrong, but I also wanted to prove to other young people in the care system that if I can do it, so can they.

It certainly hasn’t been easy but in the long run it has been satisfying proving those who told me I couldn’t do it, that I could. So if I can do all of that from having nothing to begin with, so can other young people.

People will say often that I’m a successful individual, but I am only successful because I am happy in what I am doing in life and that’s what success really boils down to - happiness.

I hope young people and current care leavers read this and feel inspired by my achievements. Remembering it’s never too late to chase your dreams. Look at me, I am only one step away from mine.

Thanks for reading everyone!