UCL News


Seven Questions with Jacob Lawless

22 February 2019

Meet MA Student Jacob Lawless, President of the UCL First-Gen Society. Jacob shares with us his experiences with academia, career aspirations in higher education and favourite way to unwind after a long week.

Student J Lawless

What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?
I'm currently studying part-time for an MA in Higher Education Studies and I chose to do so because ever since I started my journey at university, I've been fascinated by the impact that higher education has on the world. The subject also combines the study of sociology, history, politics, economics - all in the context of education, which is a big draw for me. In the future, I hope to occupy a leadership position in higher education, either at a university or at an organisation that works with them.

What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?
For me, this would be UCL's It's all Academic fundraising campaign. It has been great to see staff and students come together to gather support for a wide variety of great causes from philanthropists around the world. The sheer sums of money raised for medical research, scholarships and student support services show that UCL is a special place that is truly making a difference.

Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?
Although it's hardly hidden, I love the Wolfson Study Space on 25 Gordon Street and its giant bean bag!

Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London
1) A Sunday walk through Hampstead Heath after a long week
2) Grabbing a bite to eat at Bánh Bánh in Peckham
3) Watching a movie at the Ritzy in Brixton

If you were Provost for the day what one thing would you do?
Ensure that the University provides more support to students from disadvantaged backgrounds whilst they are on their course. UCL is doing a lot to try and attract a more diverse student cohort but at present, there is a very limited level of support available to those who actually make it here. That is why I established UCL First-Gen in late 2018; we hope to kick-start a chain reaction and appreciate that sometimes it requires somebody to take the initiative.

Who inspires you and why?
I am inspired by so many people but recently I met a very impressive young woman. She was born an orphan and has been in care all of her life. At 13 she was kicked out of school and has experienced some incredibly traumatic life experiences, however, despite these events she has managed to get her life back on track and is completing her A-levels at a local college. She showed a remarkable amount of emotional maturity for her age and if she gets the support required, I have no doubt she will go far in life.

What would it surprise people to know about you?
From the ages of 12-19 I was far from the model student. Despite showing lots of promise academically from a young age (second highest eleven-plus score in the county of Gloucestershire), I was kicked out of two schools and dropped out of sixth form aged 17. After working full-time for a couple of years, at 19 I re-enrolled at college and finally went to university at 21. Everything has been on the up since then!