Hameeda Hussani, paralegal  at Birketts

I was born in Afghanistan and moved to the UK as a refugee when I was 13 years old. Upon my arrival, life in England seemed very different to the world that I had left. The two countries are complete opposites and adjusting to a new country was definitely challenging and at times frightening.

In Afghanistan access to education is very limited for girls and is determined by society and your family. Consequently, when I came to the UK I was unable to read or speak English and was unfamiliar with the world of books and education.

Initially, attending school filled me with dread and I lived in a constant state of anxiety. I was scared to go to school because of the endless bullying and the dread of what the bullies would say and do to me. As a result I isolated myself from the wider school community and hid in the corner of the school in the hope that I would become invisible. The library at school was busy and I was afraid to go in which meant it took me a lot longer to learn English than I thought it would.

Despite the difficulties I faced, I really valued my time at school and it was the most rewarding time of my life. It was through school that I learnt to appreciate the existence of education. I started college with almost with no GCSEs but through hard work and determination managed to achieve three A Levels.

While considering career options I was regularly told that a career in law was unsuitable: due to my ethnicity and because of the high level of competition that came with the job. I briefly considered training as a nurse but lacked the energy and enthusiasm inside of me to work towards it. In my heart I wanted to become a lawyer and I was determined to achieve my goal.

Ultimately, I decided to pursue law even though it seemed almost impossible. I wanted to study law because it was a rare choice for people like me who came from Afghanistan and had never seen a real world of education before the age of 13. The law suited my ambitions; I had a chest full of aspirations and appetite for law because of the restriction imposed on girls in Afghanistan and had constantly been reminded of their limited rights. I was therefore determined to take on the challenge and was sure that studying law was the most suitable course for me as this was the only way I could make a difference. Now I am confident to say it was the best decision I had ever made.

My dream of becoming a lawyer meant that I constantly had to face doubts and setbacks; the doubts and setbacks were overruled by my sheer passion for law. My interest in law increased enormously after I had built my confidence and learnt to trust myself. Before embarking on my career path as a lawyer I took every opportunity that knocked at my door, whether big or small. I did all sorts of work experiences to help me get a step closer to my dream including volunteering at the Citizens Advise Bureau, doing mini pupillages and legal work experiences. It was then I decided to become a solicitor. I studied law at Anglia Ruskin University and City University of London.

In September 2018 Birketts opened their door to me and now I am proud to say that I finally am very close to my dream of becoming a lawyer working as a paralegal in the commercial property team. I am hoping to start my training contract in September 2019 and truly hope to make a difference through advocating for education rights and human rights in addition to my full-time job.

My drive to learn and grow as a lawyer gives me the courage and confidence to work even harder and I hope my story may inspire others to follow their own dreams and desires. In your lowest moments it is important to remember that no matter what others say or do you will achieve whatever you set your mind to. With a little persistence and determination you will overcome any obstacles in your way and reach your destination.

Hameeda Hussani is a paralegal at Birketts