Graduate Denise Morrison completed not one but two degrees at London Met while bringing up her 10 children. Moving to the UK from Jamaica in 2002, Denise discovered how London brings people from all kinds of backgrounds together – something she says is replicated inside the doors of London Met.
I’m Mum to 10 children. Before I came to London Met I was living in Jamaica – I was a sales rep for the second largest newspaper in Jamaica – the Observer. I love sales. I like interacting with people. I came to England in December 2002 with my husband who came here as a student to pursue accountancy. The biggest shock was the cold! Because obviously I'm coming from a country that's really, really tropical. I miss home, but I try to stay connected, not just with my family, but what is going on there.
I love Brixton because I can feel like I'm still in Jamaica with the food, the noise and the music – that's the best representation of where I'm coming from. I was actually at Kingston University for two years before I decided to change my studies. I was studying primary teaching. I decided I wanted to do more. The programme that they were offering here really fascinated me, but when David Cameron came into office, the immigration laws changed. I only found out when I was enrolling and I was so upset because I felt cheated. I was crying because I really wanted to finish. And I wanted to finish here, because I felt like this university had something – there was something about London Met that I wanted to be a part of.
There was one person that day that stood out to me – Chris Lane. He tried everything to explain all of the above. Because he was so kind to me and supported me, I never forgot him. I couldn't study because I didn't have the money at the time. So I made a promise to myself that day that I will do it and I will come back. And I did. At the end of 2015, my immigration status changed to indefinite leave to remain. When that happened, I was able to just transition in September 2016. That was one of the best days ever.
Everything just fell into place on that first day. We were in the Great Hall, and I felt really at home because I could relate to some of the students that were there. Coming here, I realised how to accept different cultures. Some countries you have never heard from; I learnt about those countries. And for me, that’s fascinating. I realised how to love people because of who they are. If I was still in Jamaica, I wouldn't get that experience. For me, that is what London Met does. It brings people together.
You just feel at home, you just feel like you belong here. And that is how I felt, and that’s how I'm still feeling. Because you get that support. You get that help. You get people just coming together. Like they know you, they've met you before. It's strange. It doesn't matter what country they're from or even the language. It's something that you cannot touch. It's a feeling – it's just something in the atmosphere there.
My postgrad was Health and Social Care Management and Policy. I tend to challenge myself. If I don't try, then I'll never know. I spoke to one of my best friends. She basically encouraged me and said, Denise, I know you can do this. You have done it with so many kids. You have done your BA with so many kids. You can do this one. It's just a year.
My kids know me. I always tell them that you can do more and keep at it. Don't give up. I think for them, they actually see me as somebody that they can emulate – like a role model to push themselves. I've always tried to instil that in them to make sure that they know that they can do more.
I've always been somebody who's outspoken about diversity, inclusion, equality, so I got involved in a report highlighting some of the barriers that Black people are facing. I was a part of a panel of the House of Commons at the launch of the Race and Equality in the Workforce report, hosted by Clive Lewis, MP, and Lord Simon Woolley. It enabled me to gain insight on some of the challenges the BAME community is still facing.
I also got involved in a project on obesity in two London communities, trying to understand what made them eat certain things. Why, for example, in those communities, you'll have a lot of fast-food places, some quite close to schools. If they were given the opportunity to eat a bit healthier, would that help them make decisions that would change their eating habits? The research for me was fantastic. I've learned so much in regards to what I can do as a mum or an individual to have a better or healthier lifestyle. The research was well received by the community.
I volunteer in schools as well. I remember being a lunchtime supervisor, how I would deal with the children in making sure that they don't bin the vegetables. Having that knowledge of how things should be, it can make a world of difference because children won't have that unhealthy lifestyle. And it will transfer because when they become parents themselves, that healthy lifestyle will move on to the next generation.
Every student from all walks of life is welcome in this university. And we as a university want to make sure that students feel welcome here. The Centre for Equity and Inclusion helps by putting things in place, getting information, data on how we as a University can improve student experience, so that students can feel at home.
Graduation was one of the best days of my life. I felt really proud of myself. I was excited. Just being able to walk across the stage and seeing your friends there, who you’ve studied with, was amazing.
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.
"I realised how to love people because of who they are. If I was still in Jamaica, I wouldn't get that experience. For me, that is what London Met does. It brings people together."
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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."
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."