#ECGrad – Rachel aims to use her own experiences in life to help others as she moves on to university following graduation
Twenty-four-year-old Rachel Crerar, who is care experienced, came to College determined to learn so that she could gain the knowledge and qualifications to be able help others as a Human Rights Lawyer. Now, she is studying at Edinburgh Law School after graduating from Edinburgh College with an HNC in Legal Services.
We spoke to Rachel to find out more about her experience at College and her future career goals:
“I am excited to graduate from Edinburgh College in McEwan Hall. I am very proud of my achievement in attaining my HNC Legal Services. I will be the first person in my family to graduate from College and then enter university. I am excited to have my family watch me graduate. One of my siblings has just started his adventure at Edinburgh College after being motivated by seeing me study there.
“I lived in the care system from the age of 9 until 16, ultimately leaving care with no formal qualifications. The responsibilities I had in my life at the age of 16 is what effectively took me away from the education system. I had to learn how to live independently at the time I should have been learning academically.
“The best thing about studying at Edinburgh College has been accessing a proper education. A highlight would be staff members like Care Experienced Manager Catherine McCormack and head of school of Enterprise and Commerce Lynn Louden. Both have experience and expertise in their fields which supported me and benefitted my learning.
“I faced countless challenges before starting at College. I overcame them with sheer determination. I never gave up. I kept fighting for the life I wanted and deserved. I have encountered people in my life who I admire. They both share the same qualities, to show unconditional love and care, to provide a safe and secure environment and to help guide you through the traumatic experiences that life dealt you.
“By encountering this sort of support, I felt safe and secure, no matter what. They got me through. This gave me the confidence to become the best version of myself which helped me form the confidence to walk into Edinburgh Law School and not feel as though I was going to drown but instead swim.
“If I could give one piece of advice to a student starting at the college now it would be to have fun! Education is very exciting. You’ll find the answers in the books. You can do it. Do not give up. I know you can do it because I did it and will continue to do it, despite all the barriers and adversity. If you need help with ANYTHING, ask for it and ask for it again. You shall receive help.
“Get up early and go to sleep early. Be on time. View your studies as though you are working a full-time job, Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.
“I have recently started a journey that I never thought I would be able to go on, my first year at Edinburgh Law School, undertaking my Bachelor of Laws.
“It's my ambition to attain an LLB degree because I feel extremely passionate about Human and Legal Rights. I have campaigned for children's rights since I was a child and have continued to defend the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Human Rights Act 1998. The Children and Young People's Commissioner of Scotland awarded me with the Child Human Rights Defenders Tartan for my work.
“I aspire to make a positive impact on society; locate and resolve issues with the law. I have presented my work to the Scottish Parliament and the Scottish Government. I have challenged legislators on laws and policies that are intended to fail its citizens.
“I find myself learning about things from an academic perspective where my knowledge has all come from my life experience. I use my life experience as a frame of reference for what I'm learning academically. My intellect mixed with my lived experience is very valuable. I am resilient, I have seen things that most law students will never even conceive exist. I will see issues and want to address them.
“Lady Hale of Richmond argued that the legal system needs more people with lived experience and I can provide that. I want Scotland's children and families to thrive, not just survive, or worse, die. I aspire to be a lawyer/ human rights advocate and a university graduate.”