October 16, 2020 | Mark Dorey
After graduating in 2011, Myles Harman wanted to continue his studies, but a lack of financial support meant this wasn’t an option. Nine years later, a scholarship has helped Myles to return to education. In this article, he tells us about his journey from his hometown of Torquay, to studying for a Masters Degree in Classics at Leeds.
A career in academia, for me, always seemed like an unrealistic pipe dream. Now, it seems like it could actually be a possibility, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to be in this position.
I haven’t followed a typical path to get to where I am today. I became my younger brother’s guardian when I was 17, so I couldn’t go off to uni as soon as I finished school like everyone else. I started my degree when I was 20, and because I’m also the first in my family to go to university, I always felt like I was starting on the back foot.
I chose to study Ancient History at Leicester. It seemed like the natural choice, as I’ve always been interested in the ancient world. When I was younger, reading and learning about the past helped to take my mind away from the other things going on in my life.
Despite feeling at a bit of a disadvantage when I started my studies, I graduated in 2011 with a first. I’d have loved to stay at university and pursue a masters, but without financial support or family and friends to fall back on, it just wasn’t an option. Instead, I pushed the thought of further study from my mind, and got a job in an office.
After a few years in unfulfilling roles, I embarked on a law conversion degree. I did all right, but my grades weren’t as high as they’d been throughout my undergraduate studies, because I just didn’t have the same passion for what I was studying. When I should have been spending my evenings reading up on different aspects of the law, I’d find myself poring over books filled with history and classics. I realised I didn’t want to qualify as a solicitor, so last year, I left my job as a paralegal and began looking at options for a Masters.
That’s when I arrived at Leeds. I got a job in administration at the University, and applied to study a Masters in Classics. That’s when I heard about the Scholarships Programme. I applied, but I really wasn’t expecting to be accepted. Receiving the scholarship has changed my life.
I’ve kept my job on campus throughout my studies, but the support I’ve received has meant I’ve been able to reduce my hours to part-time. I’ve been able to channel this extra time into my studies, particularly focusing on the language components. To study a Masters in Classics, you must complete a module in Latin or Greek. I opted for Greek, and started out in the beginners’ class. However, after devoting my non-working days to some intense catch-up, I’ve now been able to move up to intermediate. This makes all the difference to my career prospects, as it means I’ll now meet the requirements to teach Classics in the future myself.
I’m absolutely loving my studies, even all of the hours I have to spend on grammar. Every aspect of my course is so interesting, that it just doesn’t feel like work! The topic of my dissertation is a specific area of Greek mythology, but there’s so much material that I’m considering continuing on to a PhD. I can hardly believe my luck that this option has even become a possibility.
Thanks to my scholarship, I’ve gone from jobs that were never the right fit for me, to starting out on a career that I will genuinely love. I feel incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity, and can’t thank donors enough for the support I have been given.