By NUS-USI Welfare Officer JD Armstrong

This year marks six years since I first stepped through the doors of the Belfast Metropolitan College, and my life has changed in ways I never really expected it to. I came in rather closed off from the world, with very few friends to speak of, and little self-confidence in myself to remedy that.

Some of the very first people I spoke to in my first two years are some of my closest friends to this day, and have met so many people through them and the college that although weird in their own peculiar way, we banded together through thick and thin.

The Belfast Met, when I first arrived here had a reputation as being the place the ‘failures’ went when they didn’t pass their A levels in school. Which is completely untrue, it was a haven for those who the school system had failed, and those who didn’t exactly ‘fit in.’

The first two years I started to open up to new experiences, new things and new ideas, it was an environment where I was challenged, both in terms of what I believed, what I thought and my morals.

It was entirely a journey of self-discovery, I found myself doing an HND in Broadcast Journalism, and running for the BMCSU student council, both in the same year, both things I had never once considered things I would have done when I went to the Met.

And today I sit as the 3rd person elected as the only full-time FE sabbatical officer in Northern Ireland, and still face the same anxiety, stress and fear of the unknown that I had when I started six years ago, Further Education has been the best thing that I’ve ever done. I may have followed the road traveled by few, despite the hardships, I wouldn’t change a thing.

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