An inspiring data analyst from Greenwich, South East London, is the latest guest on a brand-new podcast series starting this month, hosted by broadcaster Gemma Cairney.
Life … On Our Terms is an eight-episode podcast series from The Open University (OU) discussing a range of topics about life and the routes to success taken by some famous names. The series also hears directly from young undergraduate students of the OU, who each have a fascinating story to share.
The third episode features 25-year-old Abiola Lawal, a senior network assurance data analyst. The third-year student, undertaking a BSc (Honours) in Computing and IT, discusses his unconventional journey into higher education with former Radio 1 DJ Gemma.
Life on his terms
Working by day and studying at night, Abiola’s story truly embodies the sentiment of the podcast. Going straight into employment as an apprentice after completing his A levels, Abiola has worked his way up to senior analyst and is now studying for a degree. Speaking to Gemma, he explains his motivations:
“I wanted the opportunity to study part-time whilst working full time in a company and grow both professionally and academically.
“The Open University allows you to study at your own pace and find the right balance between working full time and studying part time. So, I don’t have to sacrifice my education for full time work. I’ve been able to progress each year towards my bachelor’s degree and progress year on year at work.”
Support from tutors over computer and on the end of the phone, and access to a community of students has enabled him to progress successfully through the course.
“The tutors and I stay in communication by email, Skype and phone. I am able to give my tutor a call and just spend 5 or 10 minutes on the phone to explain where I’m getting stuck and ask for any insight they might be able to give. That’s been really helpful.
“With my fellow students, we’ve got a discord link that we all just go in and talk. It’s not always to do with studying, we talk about our personal life and anything interesting going on. We have a WhatsApp group as well, so again it’s a very collaborative way of working together.”
Looking to the future
Almost at the finish line, Abiola turns to talk of the future.
“I’d like to go for a master’s degree with the OU. This has been working great for me, studying with The Open University allows me to go on with my life and pursue my career goals. I can study and grow within the business as I have been doing for the past seven years.”
Each week on the series, Gemma is joined by another well-known guest who has forged their own, very successful path in life. On this occasion, education activist Lavinya Stennett, founder and CEO at The Black Curriculum, joined Gemma and discussed her efforts to embed black history on the syllabus to ensure the curriculum reflects us all.
To hear Gemma talking to Abiola and Lavinya listen to the podcast here: https://podfollow.com/life-on-our-terms