One of eight children and the first in his family to go to university, Aaron Patel was determined that his background wouldn't define him. Inspired to succeed through his love of football, he found something special in London Met – and it's not altogether dissimilar from an international football tournament.
I grew up in Edmonton. I'm one of eight children. My mum and dad sacrificed a lot for me – family's really important.
I remember coming here for a few open days and I met student ambassadors who were really welcoming. I liked the campus location, and you could get a train to central London very quickly.
I met amazing people who helped me in all sorts of ways. I think the community was essentially the biggest part – there were even student ambassadors who remembered me when I started.
I'm the first in my family to go to university. So I didn't have anyone to lean on for that experience. I remember walking in and being mortified, and thinking, this is either going to go really well or it's not. But it was a memorable first day. I'll always remember it for how far I've come.
In my first year, I was a writer for the Students’ Union on Verve Magazine. Then the Editor in Chief left, and she asked me to take over, which was bucket list for anyone.
I also had my own show on Verve Radio in the first year. I trained people for the second and third year, which was a lot of fun. It gave me a lot of transferable skills. Before uni, I was never really a people person, but it allowed me to become so much better with people. I had had very few life experiences before uni, beyond my own town.
When I was younger, every Saturday I watched football – the most obscure football matches (we didn’t have Sky). There's so much more than just kicking a ball. Football is like a universal language. We all speak it. I've made a lot of friends through football.
London Met’s like an international football tournament. Everyone comes from different corners of the globe to win the World Cup; everyone comes from different corners of the globe to come to London Met and get a degree. You're all there for the same reason.
Graduating was also a pretty proud moment for me – graduation was delayed because of COVID. Being able to have the gown and see everyone again was really nice. It meant a lot to walk across the stage.
I'm very lucky to be part of the journalism course, which has some of the best – Wendy Sloane, Brian Jarman, Gill Wood, Simon Cadman, Victoria Neumark Jones, they really enabled me to go further. I wouldn't have got the placement without Wendy, because she pushed me to do it.
I spent two weeks at Sky News and then a week at Sky Sports News, which is obviously a dream come true. They asked me to write a Snapchat article on a really rare diamond in West Africa. I put everything into it. Sky didn't really put bylines on Snapchat articles. But they said, we'll put one on because obviously this is for you to go away with.
I did my MA in Creative, Digital and Professional Writing here too. It was the height of lockdown, but they provided us with the best opportunities to get better at what we were doing. I met some really great people on the course.
I love Camden. Very hip, cool. There are so many good places to eat and really nice breweries. There's a vegan burger place in Camden Market – it's one of my favourites. I'm not vegan, but I can eat there all day.
I started a student magazine in 2019 with some friends called Mental Magazine. We've been running with that ever since. That gives me a lot of joy because we're providing resources and advice for people who need it. Mental health is something that's become really important to me.
I've always felt London Met has a very unique feel and brand to it. It's not your typical big university. It's a community university – there’s a really good atmosphere to it.
I've met friends for life, people who I haven't seen since the pandemic started and live across the world, but we still talk. That’s amazing and wonderful, because I've learned so many things from people from different cultures and countries. This community has given me a lot of happiness. It's a special place to me, London Met.
Family is the first thing that I keep in my heart. Just because we're from this background, it doesn't mean we're not capable of anything we want, because we are. Your background doesn't define you.
London Met’s been such an amazing place for me. Don't let anything stop you from going after whatever you want. London Met is a great example of an institution that provides this opportunity.
"No matter where you're from, you can succeed in anything you want. And I think London Met is a great example of an institution that provides this opportunity."
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"I believe that with education, you can do great things. It doesn't matter where you're from, as long as you have that, you can change the world."
"To me, London Met symbolises change because that's what it did in my life. You can do so much more than you thought you could."
"I've always felt London Met has a very unique feel and brand to it. It's not your typical big university. It's a community university – there’s a really good atmosphere to it."
"Meeting other people is not about right or wrong, it’s about learning and acceptance. London Met really feels like a place where everyone could belong."
"London Met – it doesn't just provide you with academic lessons. It also teaches you life lessons and about different cultures. I think it's so important to go to a university in London because you get to learn from other people too – we're all from different walks of life."
"What I see here is everyone being really welcoming and there's a sense of community which I've never seen at any other institution."
"Being here has shaped many of the things I do and I am grateful to the University and a number of good people I have worked with at London Met for that."
"It is the place where I’ve met some great people who I consider friends. People who share difficulties, struggles, disappointments. Situations that brought us together. I met lecturers who believe in me and keep pushing me to achieve the very best of me."
"As an alumna, London Met means the gateway to the path that led me to realise my passion for social work, to go on to become Principal Lecturer, Head of Social Work and to make a difference to students who come to social work education from diverse backgrounds. Students like me."
"Once I got into a classroom of students, I fell in love with helping them to believe in themselves and to change their practice with young children. I never thought, 20 years ago, that I'd be teaching at a university!"
"The mission of the University has been to widen participation ever since I’ve been here. I believe in that mission, and I’ve seen it work. It’s that idea that you can give some people a chance."
Nils Perez Codesal
"London is a place for me where I could grow in the best way possible. I felt so much more comfortable just being myself."