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Birmingham Campus Student Stories

UWTSD’s Birmingham students share how UWTSD has transformed their learning journeys and transformed their lives.

Setbacks don’t stop determined grandmother from building education into her life once more.

Motherhood, grandmotherhood, then university… Samina Zia proves that education is possible at whatever stage in life and inspires others to keep their goals in sight. Samina is just one module away from completing her BA Leadership and Management, which forms another step in a long and varied educational journey spanning countries and continents, decades and directions.


Born in Pakistan, Samina studied a secondary school education there before marrying, moving to the UK with her husband and starting family life with her three children.

“I wanted to be a doctor,” she tells us, “But my studies were interrupted when I got married. Then family commitments and other personal issues kept hindering my attempts to restart my education, although it didn’t stop me self-learning different things online. I love to learn and study, I always have.”

Despite other commitments previously keeping her away from education, in 2013, Samina registered for college but could not provide any documentation from her education back in Pakistan. She was advised that she’d have to begin at entry level again, and that this fact, combined with her age, meant she was unlikely to be able to become a medical student.

Samina dealt with this setback without losing hope, deciding that it meant merely a change of pathway, not a reason to give up altogether. “I’ve faced negative situations in the past, and as much as they were difficult, I don’t regret them because I would not be the person, I am today without going through those hard times.”

“It’s not in my nature to accept defeat or say, ‘I can’t do this’,” she tells us. “I believe that even the word ‘impossible’ has the hidden meaning of, ‘I am Possible,’ and that is what pushes me and motivates me to keep going.”

Exploring a different avenue, she trained as a Teaching Assistant in 2015 and worked in classrooms across Birmingham and Coventry, gaining huge amounts of experience in schools before deciding teaching young children wasn’t for her.  

Back to the drawing board, she began researching universities and Higher Education opportunities. “Due to my other commitments, I was struggling to find a university that would suit my personal needs and requirements, and as a result I kept delaying applying to university.

“But in 2017, when I heard about the opening of UWTSD Birmingham’s Sparkhill Campus and the course in Leadership and Management, it was a lifechanging moment for me. I’m a leader by nature and have always been comfortable in this role in every situation that I’ve found myself in.

“My interview was done by Dr Connie, and I still remember her words... She told me how she could see the determination and motivation in my eyes and told me how she wants to see me become a shining star rising from UWTSD.

“I am now just a module away from completing my degree, and plan to go for MSC or MBA, and then a PhD in Leadership.

“Right from the beginning of my time at UWTSD I became a Class Rep then Course Rep because of my desire to help and support my fellow students. This resulted in me being chosen as the Student Voice Rep for Birmingham Campus for two years in a row, where I ensured student concerns were heard and taken care of, and that students were supported. My drive and passion to help others was also recognised by the University and I was offered a job as an IT Assistant alongside my studies.

“Recently, I spoke at a Springboard event and shared my story and university experience with other students. It was a complete success with many students feeling highly motivated and inspired by my personal and educational journey and wanting to walk on the same path as me to become successful in future. This motivated me to continue further and become a lecturer to help more students find success in whatever path they might choose.”