To my members, past, present and future I write to you my last article as News Editor of the OULS and indeed as a committee member as I am off to pastures new.
This time, the article is about the lady behind the newsletter. Hopefully, you will find some inspiration. This is my story with the OULS.
Back in 2018, I joined as a member of the Open University Law Society. At first, I sat back and watched and observed, mesmerized by the work the volunteers put in. When they announced they were looking for a new committee, I decided to take the leap. I had a love of writing and coming up to my last year of Uni, I wanted to expand my extracurricular activity.
I applied for the News Reporter position but to be honest, I never thought I would get the position. So, imagine my surprise when my name was announced. I was so happy and began my writing journey.
In the next elections, I put myself forward for News Editor. I loved my year on the committee, attending Mooting competitions at the Supreme Court and Careers Events on Campus. I didn’t want the experience to end.
I had just graduated and wanted to dedicate my time to the OULS whilst I took a year off from my studies. I was over-joyed when I was elected in.
I had wonderful feedback from members and every email I was sent made me happy that I had made someone smile. We had a great time as a committee and made lots of new friends and memories.
The next year, still loving my time, I decided to run again. The pandemic had just hit and no one knew what was going to happen. The newsletter could still run, but I wanted to use it as an escape for people. There was so much sorrow surrounding the world, I wanted the newsletter to take people away from it all if only for 10 minutes. So, I made the decision to make it a covid-free zone.
The society bloomed as we met and talked about how we could adapt to the situation going on in the world. It was then, that we decided to make the OULS an online society, where people could attend the events and mooting online. After all, the OU is all about being online, so why weren’t we? What it actually did was open up so many opportunities for all our members.
Being disabled, I often found that events could be inaccessible or the travelling was too far. Having the events online meant that anyone who found it difficult to get to an event could now go, even people from abroad. The whole committee worked together to get events, mooting, debates and mock trials together and we had a really successful year.
In 2021, when elections came around, I thought long and hard about whether to stand or not. I knew I would have competition and I was starting my LPC, but it was this reason I decided to nominate myself. I wanted to pass my experiences on to our members.
I had stiff competition and I really did not think I would be elected, I thought my time was up and I had started writing my handover notes. When I saw the members had elected me for the fourth year running, I cannot describe that feeling. All I can honestly say is thank you, to everyone that believed in me and voted for me. You have made my time on the committee a truly magical one.
In 2018 I graduated with a 2:1, something I never thought possible. I didn’t think me, from a low-class, single-parent background with disabilities and dyslexia could obtain a law degree, nonetheless a 2:1.
I took a break from the law after graduating and was sent an advert by a fellow OULS committee member about a course in Journalism with a disabled academy (Academy of Disabled Journalists). Spurred on by my time with the OULS and obtaining a National Lottery Scholarship, I embarked on a foundation course in Journalism. During my course with the ADJ, I had almost given up going on to the LPC. I didn’t have the extra funds and no way of obtaining them. Yes, there was a post-grad loan, but I still needed over £3,000 something far beyond my reach.
Imagine my surprise, when I received a phone call one afternoon to advise me, I had been awarded the Daniel Turnbull Memorial Scholarship for my full fees. My dream of my LPC was coming true.
In Jan 2021 I commenced my LPC and master's, and I was beyond happy. However, during my time on my course my disability declined, and I was faced with the prospect of not being able to fulfil a training contract at the end of it. I was determined not to give up and fought through. In December 2021 I got the results that I had passed. I was so happy to get this far.
I didn’t want to give up totally though and over the past two years have run a blog site, Legally Powered. I decided that I was going to use this to my advantage and with my legal knowledge and my journalistic skills I would take it further. I am now completing a Diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ and my website Legally Powered is in full swing.
The aim of Legally Powered is to make both the legal sector and Britain accessible to all. Many a court or legal building I have been unable to access in my wheelchair. Legally Powered is now an accessibility advisor to those wanting to upgrade or build a new site among other things. I am currently on the committee of procedures for Disabled people at the Supreme Court.
I might not be where I thought I was going to be, but something tells me I am where I am meant to be.
Serving the OULS committees and most importantly its members over the past four years has been an honour and a privilege.
Saying goodbye is hard but has to be done. I hope you will continue to follow me on my blog site Legally Powered and keep in contact. I have seen many of you start your journey with the OU and see you grow over these four years, so I hope you will let me know how you get on in your studies.
My final piece of advice is – Follow your dreams, don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t. And just because you are not there now, doesn’t mean you won’t be there in the future, sometimes our plans don’t work out how we planned them, that’s not always a bad thing, sometimes things have to slip out of place to make way for something even better. Finally in the words of Elle Woods, whilst you might have faith in people, ALWAYS HAVE FAITH IN YOURSELF!
Now I sign out of my last article as I thank the OU and the OULS for this amazing experience and say Farewell from your News Editor!
Written By: Victoria-Jayne Scholes
OULS News Editor