“Sometimes life doesn’t prepare us for what’s around the corner,” says Kulvinder Kherteru, who credits her family and her OU tutors for helping her to carry on with her studies during some difficult years.
Kulvinder Kherteru first decided to pursue her love of history after a little encouragement from her father-in-law. It had always been his dream to see one of his six children go to university, but circumstances meant this was never possible.
“I took up this challenge to fulfill his dream,” says Kulvinder, who began studying for a BA (Hons) History part-time through The Open University while her son was at secondary school.
“Two years passed very quickly and to our surprise I found out that I was pregnant. We all started to prepare for our new bundle of joy to arrive, yet my baby boy passed away shortly after he was born. The devastation that hit me and my family, I really cannot explain. The loss of our child was a lot to cope with, so I gave up my studies.”
‘Finding a way to cope’
It was Kulvinder’s mother-in-law who suggested she return to her Open University studies as a way to cope with their devastating loss.
“She was right, I needed something to put my mind to, so I continued on with my degree.”
Two years down the line, Kulvinder became pregnant again, a happy yet difficult period in her family’s life. “All the fears set in again,” she says, “but with the support of everyone, I plodded on. I went on to have a baby boy and all our families were overwhelmed with joy, my eldest son was so happy.”
‘A dream for us all’
Kulvinder continued to study towards her Open University History degree and after eight years, she qualified in 2017. She describes her degree ceremony as one of the most memorable days of her life so far.
“My mother in law, who used to make me cups of tea and coffee while I studied, just cried with pride as all the hard work paid off. Credit goes to all of my family, The Open University student support and my friends who all helped me in some way or another to achieve my goal.”
‘I never once felt alone’
Though Kulvinder’s journey was not always an easy one, she says that the support she received made all the difference. She says:
“The OU’s dedication and genuine care for mature students is always there, I never once felt alone.”
“The feeling that I have of finally completing what I had started, after eight years, is amazing. The two years I took out, first losing a child and then to go onto having another one. The feeling that I get, knowing what I have achieved, living in an extended family, having two children and to top it all, holding down a full-time job, is an achievement in itself.”
“The Open University has supported me not just through my studies but through my grief and happiness also. I will always be forever thankful to them all. I never gave up, at times it was easy to, but I carried on until I completed my degree.”
Kulvinder continues to work in Special Needs Education as she has done for the past 18 years. “As I have taught my children, education is the key,” she says. “My eldest son has now completed his Computer Science Degree and is currently doing his Masters.”
Byline: Carly Sumner
Carly Sumner is a Digital Content Officer in the Development Office at The Open University. She loves telling stories and has spent the past 10 years writing about everything from nappy bags to balance transfers. She holds a BA (Hons) in Journalism and Media Studies from Coventry University. When she’s not writing, Carly enjoys reading, sharing good food with great people, and all things colourful.