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Put Your Mind To It

By Zarqa Azhar

The purpose of my story is to inspire you that anything is possible if you put your mind to it! Unfortunately, I was not given the same opportunities that other people were given in terms of education, but I fought my way through it. Now I am exactly where I want to be in my life; so, this is my story.


I was born and raised in London, but due to some family issues, in 2011, I moved abroad. I was 14 years old and attended private school for a number of years, and then my parents came amidst some financial issues. This meant I had to be pulled out of school before I completed my GCSE equivalent exams. I was home-schooled for a while and taught myself without a teacher for a year before completing a few exams privately, which I did extremely well in and bagged 4 A’s. I was very proud of myself!

However, during this period, my mother wanted to come back to the UK as she was really struggling emotionally and financially to raise me, and my siblings. My father was rarely there as he worked abroad, and he could only visit every three months. My mother needed a support system which the UK government and other family members could provide. I flew back to the UK at aged 17 and this was just before completing the remaining 6 exams that I had studied for.

After coming back and enquiring with different schools, I was not the right age to go back to secondary school and did not have the sufficient qualifications to join a sixth form or college. I was very upset with this as I did not know what to do anymore. I really wanted to go far and do well and I thought this was the end of the road for me in terms of getting normal education. Although I felt this way, I am very glad we moved back. Not only for my mother’s sake, but also to ensure my siblings got the education they deserve. My siblings were pulled out of school too, but luckily, they were all younger than me and they were accepted into secondary schools without any issues.


I decided to do research and look for alternative options for myself. I eventually decided to go down the apprenticeship route into business. For two and a half years I completed an intermediate and advanced level apprenticeship with different companies. I was very motivated to do well as I was lucky enough to be accepted into the programme in the first place. These were the best years of my life as I learned so much and grew as a person.

Although I was tempted to stay in this company after completing my advanced apprenticeship, I decided to apply for university and see if I could go further. I was 20 now, and my options were limited as not many universities would accept this entry route. But after writing a very convincing personal statement, I got in and decided to go for it. I moved out of London and studied a degree in International Business. I graduated with a first-class honour in July 2020 and now I work within the fraud department of a global bank.


The best part of this journey is that I now do not regret any part of it. I am glad things have worked out the way it has. I am very proud of myself because not only have things gone far better than I planned but I have also seen my siblings work hard and fight for what they always deserved. My brother is now in one of the top universities in the country and I am glad he was given the opportunity for a normal education even if I was not.

I am now 23, independent, happy with my career and saving to buy my first house. The moral of this story is that anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Even if things are not going the way you planned for them to go, just keep pulling through and working hard. Everything will fall into place eventually and you just need a little bit of patience and motivation to fight for what you want.

Thank you for listening to my story!!

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