Student Stories is Glasgow Caledonian University’s blog about student experiences at the University and how those experiences have contributed to their successes.
Andrew Gray is a Risk Management student from Glasgow and winner of the Lindsay Leadership Award and GCU Common Good Award for his charity and fundraising work, and his contribution to developing links between students and industry. Here he looks back on the last four years with GCU and what made it special for him.
I studied at GCU because…
I selected GCU as the UK University of my choice for my degree with the help of the Scottish Wider Access Programme for mature students returning to education. My search included attending open evenings at the University and reading online feedback from graduating students. I was looking for a qualification in a growing profession with good opportunities for jobs, career satisfaction, and at a university that allowed me to stay in Glasgow, and today I am graduating with a First Class in BA (Hons) Risk Management.
What’s been most important to you?
The most important thing for me during my Risk Management degree was the structure of my timetable. It allowed me the flexibility to work and earn around my studies, which meant I didn’t need to change my current lifestyle too drastically to add university into my routine.
“GCU is a great place to come if you’re leaving school, but it’s just as good if you’re returning to education in order to change career. Although you may feel apprehensive at first, this feeling quickly disappears.”
What’s been your biggest lesson learned?
University changes your way of thinking and teaches you the value of challenging the ideas of others – not simply accepting the norm. I was never an academic pupil at school but I’ve excelled here at GCU with hard work and commitment, these are the things that get you through and give you the start you need. The other big lesson for me was that university is a mixture of many different people looking to achieve different goals, it’s a great place to come if you’re leaving school, but just as good if you’re coming to change career by returning to education, so although you might feel apprehensive at first, this feeling quickly disappears.
Do you believe we are the University for the Common Good?
Absolutely – there are things I’ve taken part in on campus that will help future students, and even as graduating students we’re still willing to be a part of the change. This is an important ethos for me. I feel like society is in the middle of “selfie” mode, people are too concerned about themselves and how others view them, I think there is a competitive edge to everything which is not always healthy. Helping others, even those you don’t know is something that contributes to the Common Good. I believe in the “pay it forward” ideology, rather than paying people back, help the next person in your own way. If everyone did good things for others the world would be a better place!
Who inspires you?
Many people! The younger students on my course, they’re full of energy, curiosity and drive. My aunt and uncle – who sadly lost their daughter Laura when she was just 24 and who fundraised for cancer charities that helped her during her battle with the disease. This has helped so many others and I am in awe of their determination to raise money for good causes.
Celebrity-wise I’d say Sir Andy Murray, for his achievements both on and off the tennis court. His dedication to being the best in his field shows that you can make it to the top no matter what your background is; he is always helping others through his charity work and happy to give something back to the tennis community in Scotland.
Where are you going next and have your ambitions changed?
All going well, my first career stop will be in or near London. Beyond that, I’d like to move overseas again – potentially back to Australia one day working for a large multi-national. My focus was to complete the degree and attain the highest classification possible, my ambitions have grown in that I want to learn more, and from the best people, and hopefully, work my way to the top of the field in years to come. My dissertation gave me an opportunity to explore the aviation industry and I would love one day to work in that space as it’s so interesting and no two days are the same.
If we bumped into you on campus, where are you most likely to be and why?
In the Saltire Centre; enjoying a coffee, and catching up with class-mates in-between studies. If I’m not there I’ll be keeping myself out of the way on the silent part of the library on level 4.