Gemma's LIFT OFF Journey

Standing outside my school, a brightly coloured suitcase in hand, waiting nervously for a bus to take me to a week of the unknown away from my friends and family.

A bus slowly drew up and out popped a cheery girl wearing a white t-shirt with the words LIFT OFF on it, then my nervousness instantly vanished.

6 years on who would have thought I would be standing outside the same school, with the same brightly coloured suitcase, but this time I was the one with and white t shirt and it was my job to make sure that the bunch of scared pupils I would be meeting weren’t nervous anymore.

The LO2S experience had a massive impact to me as a pupil. When I was 14 I was very shy and insecure, so going away for a week with people from my school who weren’t my friends was a big deal. I was going into the unknown and it was terrifying! As the week went on I began to come out my shell.  With the help of the student volunteers and staff I was introduced to new and exciting courses, as well as making friends with pupils from the different schools.

I thought after the week at LO2S it would be the last time I would see, or hear from the team but I was wrong. The workshops each year were a big help in preparing me for university life. Before L02S I already knew what I wanted to do when I left school, but the LIFT OFF team gave me the help and direction I needed to succeed. The workshops helped me figure out what grades I needed for my chosen course, as well as realise how much money I would need and introduced me to every student’s best friend - SAAS.

After a lot of hard work and help from LIFT OFF I had made it to university. Volunteering as a student with LIFT OFF was always in the back of my mind throughout my time at university but I always made up excuses that I was too busy and had too much work to do. Really I was just scared that I wouldn’t be up to it, scared I wouldn’t be able to help people the way I was helped as a pupil. Then one day I plucked up the courage to email and enquire about volunteering.  You never know if you’re going to be good at something unless you give it a try!

After some training sessions with the team I was ready for my first workshop.  At first I was terrified but as time went on throughout the workshop I began to feel more comfortable.  Knowing that I was helping to inspire and influence the pupils was really rewarding and it was great that the pupils were actually interested in what I was saying.

After volunteering for workshops I was employed to work on LO2S.  I had come a long way since I was a pupil myself but I was still apprehensive - was I ready to help others overcome their anxieties?  I still struggled a bit with speaking in front of people,  but as soon as all the pupils looked at me and welcomed me I instantly felt at ease. There were many difficult moments (The early mornings) but my new love for coffee and the other amazing volunteers and staff got me through.  To see all the pupils grow and make friends throughout the week was inspirational.  As each of them got up to collect their certificate at the graduation event I was so moved and even had a little tear in my eye.

Before LO2S 2012 I had just finished my third year doing Psychology and was starting to lose focus, I had one year left and still no idea what I wanted to do after I was finished my course.  Now I can safely say that I have found some motivation through listening to passionate lecturers and speeches during the Graduation Ceremony.  I now have more of a focus on my studies, rather than other aspects of the student life.  Next year I will be applying to do a post grad in Sports Psychology. 

My LIFT OFF experience as a pupil helped my gain the confidence I needed to succeed whilst at school and my LIFT OFF experience as a volunteer has helped me regain some confidence and find motivation.   

I would like to take the opportunity to thank everybody who has helped me and hope that the LIFT OFF experience can help many more people achieve their dreams.

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