Nicky Brennan – History BA (Hons) Graduate
“I graduated in 2014 from Newman University with a BA (Hons) in History. I always had an interest in History and had a particular interest in the history of ordinary people and the story of the suffragettes.
After visiting Newman, I realised how student-centred the university was and how I wouldn’t just be another student in a lecture theatre. As well as this the History course seemed perfect for me; I enjoyed the practical work experience element of the course as I knew this would help with employment opportunities upon graduating.
I had commitments outside of university as at the time I was a mother to young children; however, my lecturers understood my needs well. I was a teenage mom so it was important that I chose somewhere local and somewhere that could offer me that little bit of extra support. Newman was the perfect choice.
Newman always had such a community feel. I wasn’t just another student. The staff knew me personally and that worked really well for me. They were always on hand to give support and advice.
During my studies, my lecturers helped with my diagnosis of dyslexia and the university provided me with strategies and support with studying and spelling.
I thoroughly enjoyed my course and it exceeded my expectations. I really enjoyed my time at university. The course was interesting, and we had some great field trips. Going to Rome with expert tour guides was definitely a highlight.
I didn’t think I would enjoy the local history module but looking through all the old archives and maps made me really love Birmingham. Also the oral history module gave me a real love for talking to people. Everyone has a story to tell, no matter who they are.
My passion for Birmingham continued after my studies as I began a career in politics. History has given me good communication skills. It has also given me good analytical skills and a good way of forming arguments which has meant I am able to put forward my political arguments well and coherently.
Birmingham is such a wonderful place to live and I am very proud of my city but it’s under constant strain from all the cuts given to us by the central government. I work for a domestic violence charity and you can see all the consequences of the cuts are having on our services. Things like SureStart that were around when I had had my eldest daughter are now non-existent. These are the services that supported me to get to college and then university.
Aged 28, I became Councillor for the Sparkhill ward in Birmingham and I now dedicate my time to talking to residents to help solve their issues and I now want to use this platform and position to campaign to improve the lives of women and girls. I am also in the process of setting up a project to help girls from disadvantaged backgrounds reach their full potential in school and regularly visits local schools. I recently went to one of the primary schools in my ward where the children had created an oral history exhibition about people that immigrated to Sparkhill between 1940-1960s. It was wonderful and as a historian I was so proud of the children.
My motto has always been ‘Work hard and be nice to people’, I think that’s the best advice to give to anyone.
Newman has definitely helped shape who I am today. I am very proud to be a Newman graduate. You really can expect to achieve!”