Janet Barnett

Creative Writing student Janet Barnett graduated in 2018. A mature student, Janet found her university experience to be an uplifting and redefining experience.  She describes how her time at London Met let her rediscover a new sense of self.

What does your degree mean to you?

It's a 20-year-old deferred dream of mine. I have a folder full of qualifications at home but I didn't have a degree. I was diagnosed with dyslexia after a thorough assessment for over two hours, towards the end of my first year at University. It was amazing for me to achieve an honours degree in Creative Writing, especially as phonetically I can't break down words – I see images. My course has been a humbling achievement and a testament to my determination especially as I thought I was just an odd fit in the world.

What were your lecturers like?

The lecturers’ feedback on my assignments was very challenging for me when I first started my degree as I felt out of my comfort zone. Over three years, I’ve come to appreciate their feedback as I grew as a writer. Each lecturer has their own unique style and has provided me with a window to look though. They have all been approachable for my questions and my fears about my writing and understanding why literature matters to us all.

What were the services and facilities at London Met like for you?

The Learning Centre at Holloway Road became my home away from home. I started many assignments there and completed tonnes of research. The chairs are so comfy. I have always loved the clean air and felt it was a safe space at all times. The nearby student cafe was the place I went to to get my mid-morning snack of chips. The courtyard was a great place to sit in if I wanted to connect with nature, a different world.

Through London Met’s Disabilities and Dyslexia Service (DDS) and Disabled Students' Allowance (DSA) I was able to purchase a computer and assistive software such as ClaroRead Pro. I was able to hear the words I had written and this helped me in my writing.

What did you do outside lectures when you had some free time? Any favourite London spots?

Outside of lectures I was still a full-time mummy raising my child. In my free time I attended the theatre: Park Theatre N4, The Young Vic and the Royal Court.  

Can you tell us what you're doing now that you've graduated?

I am currently navigating my teenager through the GCSE maze. I am sending in my work for writing awards, attending writing workshops and preparing a portfolio of my work for publication.

Can you tell us how you've found things as a mature student at London Met?

My experience at London Met has been amazing. My focus has been to complete my degree, but I also learned the value of having a degree and networking. I am a single black mother raising a single black female child. I wanted to be her role model and inspiration. Obtaining my degree has given me a confidence in myself that I never had before as I hadn’t believed in ME. I want my child to realise that YOU are the only person that counts and that YOU are okay, ENOUGH to be yourself, because YOU MATTER!!!

I am grateful to my younger peers on the course as they showed me how to do things which prepared me for situations that may be in my teenager's world, that didn’t exist in mine as a teenager.

Did anything surprise you about London Met?

It surprised me how much I missed it now I have graduated.

Have you any advice you'd like to pass on to new students?

Being at university is a way to expand your mindset if you are on the right course. It allows you to meet new people and be exposed to opportunities that you could easily miss through other avenues. Experiment, take chances, dare yourself, challenge your norms, be open and willing, and most of all enjoy your time at university.

Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your time at the University?

Completing my degree has been a journey for me. My successes have included my work featuring in The Cass Yearbook of 2018, and also in the Anthology III, produced by the Creative Writing and English Literature department annually. I also received an Exemplary Creative Development and Achievement award.

Not only have I completed my degree, I have a honours that shows how hard I worked. In the beginning, I felt in the shadow of my peers due to my age and other factors. My cousin's wife said to me recently that my achievement shows my determination to succeed against the odds. I think of how important it has been not to lose ME but to celebrate who I am within the University framework.