The struggle of today will build strength for tomorrow
Belief, hard work and consistency are the keys to success, says current LLB student Muhammad Umair Nadeem.
Recently I read somewhere that “overcoming obstacles is what causes success to be worth achieving” which reflects my own academic journey so far. I am looking forward to graduating this year from the University of London with an LL.B (Hons.) It was only three years ago that I began the programme with CertHe Common in my first year at Pakistan College of Law, a recognised teaching centre of the University of London. I belong to a middle class family with financial challenges from Gojra city, a small town located a few kilometres away from Faisalabad in Pakistan.
I have always been an ambitious person, wanting to achieve something great in life, but my family’s financial circumstances and lack of proper educational facilities in my home town limited my aspirations. Although my parents did their best to provide me with opportunities for gaining the best education within their resources, after completing my High School I felt directionless and in a state of indecisiveness. This led to me not doing much for two years and even after taking admission in Bachelor of Arts I still could not decide about my future.
After hearing about the University of London LLB (Hons), I wanted to apply for it because of its prestigious reputation among the legal fraternity.
I realised that there was no further opportunity available for my academic growth in Gojra and that to avail of a higher standard of education I would have to move to a more developed city like Lahore. I had developed an interest in law and wanted it as my career of choice. After hearing about the University of London LLB (Hons), I wanted to apply for it because of its prestigious reputation among the legal fraternity. In this regards I had to consult my family for their support which they initially provided, but when they discovered the financial costs involved my father found it beyond his means to provide the financial support I needed.
It was extremely disappointing for me to realise that I could not avail the educational option of my choice because of lack of finances. It seemed that life as I had planned had come to a halt as the only alternative option for me was to drop out of education and join the family business. The support appeared in the shape of my father’s brother who saw my passion and desire and agreed to support my father financially to provide the finances for my further education. This assistance gave me a sigh of relief and was a huge motivation for me to know that my family believed in me.
With the intent to learn, and being fully aware of my family’s expectations, I enrolled in Pakistan College of Law which assisted me in completing the admissions process of the University of London. I still recall my very first day at College which I realised was a whole new world. People there had come from diverse backgrounds and the exposure I had received from Gojra felt so much less in comparison to them. Most of the students came from privileged educational backgrounds, understanding all the lectures and course work which was wholly in English. I, on the other hand, had a tough time understanding even the basic concepts since English is not my first language. Most of the other students in my first year class had attended grammar schools and had done A levels which made them more able to understand English. In the beginning it was very tough to keep pace with the class and it became clear to me that this degree was not going to be as easy as I thought it would be. As a result, my excitement soon changed to that of stress as things were getting tougher and tougher.
On the one hand, I had to deal with an intense and extremely demanding academic course – and on the other, I had to manage my life away from home. I had moved away from home for the very first time and it was quite a task managing such issues as cooking, laundry and cleaning, combined with studying by myself. Moreover, I was having social issues as well as I found it a little difficult getting accepted by the student body within the campus as my background was entirely different from most of my classmates. I observed that everyone participated in class discussions whereas I even struggled to understand the basic issues being discussed. However, I dealt with all these challenges as an incentive to improving myself. It helped that my parents had raised me to never give up in tough situations and always have faith. I knew that I would have to put in double the amount of hard work as compared to my classmates. I went on to spend long hours studying with a strong belief that one day my hard work would pay off.
Slowly, things began to get a little easier – or rather I became accustomed with absorbing the pressure. Time passed and my first year final exams approached, causing my nervousness to increase. I knew that I had given my best in preparing but I was still unsure whether it was enough. Fortunately, my hard work paid off and I passed all my exams with reasonably good marks and a qualification of CertHE in Common Law. This qualification was such a confidence booster for me, as achieving it strengthened my self-belief and made me explore my working style further. Second year LLB (Hons) was relatively easy in terms of adapting to the campus environment, but the studies just got tougher and more technical. Even more hard work was required, but the skills I developed in the first year aided me to pass my second year exams. To my surprise, my grades showed considerable improvement as compared to the first year results.
During my second year there came a time when everyone was trying to apply for internships in different law firms. I once again found myself lagging behind other students as I had no idea at all about the whole process and how to make an application that would be good enough to find me a placement at a law firm. In a very stressful state of mind I discussed this with my College’s International Programme Director who is also a senior member of faculty. She considered my issue and assisted me in applying for the University of London’s Summer Business Placement Programme. I was awarded an internship through this programme in one of the most respected law firms of the city, Ahmer Bilal Soofi & Co. Experience of this internship was very beneficial, as for the very first time in my life I experienced a professional environment in a law office. I got to meet highly respected lawyers and legal professionals and most importantly was exposed to professional skills. By the end of the internship I was more adamant about working as a professional lawyer.
I know that completing the law degree is just the beginning of the journey, but this whole process has given me lot.
My final year of LLB (Hons) has been relatively smooth as I was able to reach out to my teachers and found a network of peers who kept me steady. Surviving the grind of a law degree was not easy but the job was made more bearable through the support of my parents and family. My institution’s management and teachers had an equal part to play as they understood me as an individual and guided me throughout. The institution was firm but fair in supporting my journey. Through the environment and the opportunities I was provided in my teaching institution, I was selected for a paid internship at the highly reputed Axis Law Firm in Lahore this summer.
Now, as I await my final year results, when I look back it actually seems unreal how far I have come from where I started. I know that completing the law degree is just the beginning of the journey, but this whole process has given me lot. It has taught me how to survive outside my comfort zone and, most importantly, it has made me believe in myself and my abilities. The one thing I have developed in myself is the hunger to get better each day by acquiring the ability to embrace the challenges of life. My message for those who share my experiences is that all it requires is belief, hard work and consistency to achieve what seems impossible. You can do it: focus, and the path will open up before you.