I am Maheen Shah and I am 19 years old.  Currently I am a student at the University of Bristol, studying Chilldhood Studies MSci.

I heard about Babbasa through Michelle and Pravanya. During my time with Babbasa, we managed to get over 100 young people into some sort of work experience/ placement. I learnt that it is okay to be different and its important to celebrate these differences. I met some amazing people who I will never forget and learnt that even if I initially doubt something, I can do it. This program helped me realize it is possible to achieve wonderful things when you work as a team with people from all sorts of backgrounds

Growing up I have felt as though I have always been stereotyped and put into a box by my teachers. For me it was important to maintain a good relationship with them at the same time as making sure I didn’t confine myself to what they thought of me, and ultimately to prove them wrong.

The time I will never forget being stereotyped was when we had to fill a form out to do the Access to Bristol scheme and my teacher said to me “it shouldn’t be a problem for you as I’m assuming your parents didn’t go to university.” I remember feeling so hurt by what she has just said to me, the fact that she was underestimating me based off stereotypes was really upsetting, so I gave her a full count of my parents and other direct family members educational background and she was left shocked at how educated my parents and the rest of my family are.

I am excited to see what comes after this project. In 5 years time I see myself having completed my degree, and hopefully doing a PhD. If I could say anything to my younger self I would say to work harder and not listen too much to what other people said. Instead to enjoy life and take opportunities given to me. A Trailblazer is someone who wants to help people stay motivated and achieve their goals.