- Talking about
Pearls Eddo enrolled at Leeds during the COVID-19 pandemic, one of many who had to adapt quickly to working in unfamiliar surroundings and challenging circumstances. But the support of alumni and other donors has underpinned a remarkable first year in her University journey.
As a student from a low-income background, unable to rely on the financial support of her parents, Pearls had concerns about money, not least because lockdown had a major impact on student employment.
“My parents moved away from Nigeria when they were young, because they wanted to give their future children opportunities that they didn’t have,” she says. “I was brought up understanding the transformational nature of education; I worked hard at school because I always intended to go to university.”
The first in her family to go to university, Pearls began her law course in September 2020, and although she was unable to find a job until the summer term, the generosity of a donor provided the scholarship that allowed her to thrive. And Pearls poured her energy into making a positive contribution to the community, embarking on a mission to address disadvantages faced by others.
With friends, she founded the Leeds branch of the 93% Club. This national organisation aims to address the social mobility gap through workshops, seminars and social activities that give students from disadvantaged backgrounds the skills to become serious contenders in the job market.
As the group’s Schools Outreach Officer, she is helping pave the way for more students like herself to access higher education. “As a state-school student from a low-income background, I can attest to the significance of outreach initiatives, and the value of a society dedicated to supporting students like us.”
Pearls’s passion for making a difference also led to her successful application to become a Laidlaw Undergraduate Leadership and Research Scholar, a programme which enables talented students to gain the skills and experience to become active global citizens and ethical leaders.
During her first summer as a Laidlaw Scholar, Pearls undertook a six-week research project focused on raising attainment of Black and Ethnic Minority GCSE students. She says “I am so proud to have been selected for the Laidlaw Scholarship programme, where I got to meet and work with likeminded and passionate people.”
Through volunteer work with Citizens Advice and Abigail Housing, a Yorkshire charity that supports refugees and asylum seekers, Pearls has also been using skills and knowledge developed in her studies to support vulnerable people. “It has given me a sense of purpose around my studies,” she says. “It has opened my eyes even more to the incredible hardship some face.
“Even if I don’t end up as a housing lawyer or immigration lawyer, just being able to support charities that are doing this work is something in which I take great pride.”
Now in her second year, Pearls is already making an incredible contribution both to the University and to wider community. And donor support for scholarships was critical to her being able to take up her place and to make such an important impact on society.
“For students from similar backgrounds to mine, there’s always a feeling that you have to work three times harder to access the same opportunities as your peers. These gifts have been so helpful in putting my mind at ease. I don’t have to put as much energy into working out how I’d pay for this society membership or that opportunity – instead I can focus on my studies, developing my leadership skills, and my volunteering.”
Want to support more students like Pearls?
Please visit our Give to Leeds platform today to help to ensure that everyone in our community has an equal opportunity to thrive and succeed at Leeds.