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Amy Byard

 March 28, 2019 | Simon Jenkins

As a Communications Manager in the NHS, Amy Byard (Broadcast Journalism 2011) uses the skills which she learned at Leeds every day at work.

Yet she knows that without generous funding from our alumni, she might never have enjoyed all the benefits of a Leeds education. “The scholarship literally changed my life,” she says.

“I come from a single parent family and when I was growing up we didn’t have much. My mum worked in a launderette on minimum wage.”

Amy saw University as the way to shape a brighter future: “I knew that working hard at school was the way to make that dream come true. My gut instinct told me that I wasn’t good enough, but when Leeds offered me a scholarship it felt as though they really believed in me. That’s when I began to believe in myself.”

The scholarship helped Amy afford books and equipment, and helped when she needed to travel to London to interview people for her final year project. “It didn’t make things easy, but it meant I could keep up with those peers who had parents who were supporting them financially.”

The scholarship also allowed Amy to take part in volunteering projects while studying for her degree: “I went with a group called SoftPower Education to Nyamakuta in Uganda and spent the summer helping to build a classroom – which was an amazing experience. I then had the opportunity to backpack for a few weeks around Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania which gave me a travelling bug that is still with me today. Before that trip, I’d only been abroad three or four times before to Europe with friends so that was a huge eye-opener!”

She also visited high schools in Yorkshire to talk to students there: “I wanted to encourage young people from similar backgrounds to mine to go into higher education. It’s something which I’m really passionate about.”

Now heading into her thirties, Amy looks back on her time at Leeds as the cornerstone of her life: “It’s a part of my identity, and I would never have got my job if I hadn’t gone to Leeds. My best friends now are those who I met while living in the Henry Price Flats in my first year.” Two will be bridesmaids at Amy’s wedding later this year.

“The scholarship gave me Leeds, but it also allowed me to have a wider perspective on the world and it will affect my children’s lives too. Thank you to every single person who contributes – by helping one person you can inspire generations of change.”

Amy during her time studying at Leeds – and during her volunteering work in Uganda.

Amy Byard