Elsie-May Gribbon

BA (Hons) Interior Architecture and Design

Elsie initially only intended to study a one year foundation course following a move to Birmingham. However, she found the course, the support and the experience at BCU transformative, leading her to make some big life changes so she could continue to the Interior Architecture and Design degree.

"I attended university at age 19 and dropped out, followed by spending the next nine years travelling and working abroad. Being back at university was a challenge in terms of the financial differences compared to being in work for such a long time. I also had some personal circumstances that made the decision to start the course incredibly challenging but was lucky to have found support from tutors to allow me to progress to my degree course.

With the excellent links Interior Architecture and Design has to industry, the course provides the appropriate support and introductions for career development. Networking is encouraged and we are made aware of different associations in the city where we can go to do this. I recently presented one of my projects to the Birmingham Architectural Association at a mentoring meeting. I’ve also had the pleasure of being nominated for two Interior Educators Awards this year by my course, subsequently going on to win a Climate Emergency and Sustainability award.

I was also a part of the Women in Property Student Awards, where I presented my work alongside an interview about current issues and achievements within the industry. This culminated in a networking event where I was introduced to industry professionals and was announced as the West Midlands regional winner. I am now progressing to the national finals in September where I hope to continue to build relationships and learn from other women who place importance on sharing their experiences, knowledge and empowering the next generation of women. 

My life is conclusively better since joining BCU, having a much more comprehensive understanding of the person I aspire to be and a more well-rounded and balanced outlook on life. I have undergone a profound change in every area of my life and my creativity has been allowed to flourish. My organisational skills and work ethic has improved and impacted other areas of my life and my confidence in my abilities has grown immeasurably. I have developed a love for social projects and become a better citizen in the process, wanting to use my skills to build a better society and give back to the community that I am proud to belong to.

The course has been exceptional at providing a large skillset across multiple areas and moving progressively in depth. The teaching is comprehensive and personalised through one-to-one tutorials, allowing for individual growth and development. Although the workload and self-directed learning require good time management and organization as well as self-motivation, the project-based structure of the course allows for variety and creativity and keeps learning fresh and interesting.

The teaching and support offered by the staff has been exemplary, specifically in terms of the culture created being one of understanding and empathy. The ability to speak openly about experiences and difficulties with staff and peers is one that I’d never experienced in an academic environment, and I feel lucky to have this time.

Balancing the workload of projects with my job has been a challenging aspect of my course, however it has been beneficial in terms of future work in preparation for balancing multiple projects at once. Trying to maintain a balanced life and know when to take time to relax or ask for support has been something I have worked on as my degree has progressed, and understanding that to successfully produce my best work I need to take time for self-care.

BCU will welcome you regardless of your background, experiences and path to get here. There are so many stories to be told, perspectives to learn from, varied future ambitions and communities to become a part of. I AM BCU means there is a place for everyone."