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Luke Saunders

Luke Saunders

Computer Networks – BSc (Hons)

Luke was sceptical about going to university. He was keen to finish college and go straight into industry until he met academics at BCU and realised what he could gain by studying a degree. He’s excelled academically by making the most of links with industry, and his university experience on a whole has encouraged him to become a better version of himself.

"I never expected I’d make it to University, despite getting very good grades in both school and college. Studying never really interested me as I’d rather sit down and figure things out like an engineer. I thought university and a degree weren’t for me.

During college, I excelled at computer networking and represented my college as part of WorldSkills UK. I came first twice in two regional competitions, followed by second place in the national finals held at the NEC. From these achievements, my tutors encouraged me to apply to university and continue my studies – despite me wanting to get a job in industry.

Once I met the lecturers at BCU I realised what I could achieve by studying here. BCU’s close ties with industry were a key reason I chose to study here. When joining the university, my main goals were to just become a damn good network engineer, best in class even. To that degree, I’d say I’ve achieved it. I’m 22 and have worked on all sorts of projects for both Cisco and Huawei – the two largest networking companies globally. These projects were worth up to $40m, where I was working with some of the finest network engineers in industry.

Being a Computer Networks student at BCU has opened a lot of doors for me, the University wins hands-down when it comes to industry relations. The fact that the largest companies in computer networking know about BCU and the lecturers here is insane. We have a huge presence in the professional networking field - nowhere else offers the same level of industry contacts and placements as BCU.

My proudest moment at BCU was when I represented the University nationally and internationally for various competitions. Competing against other universities who are more well-known, or part of the Russell group, really gave me a sense of achievement. Now people all over the world have heard BCU’s name, even some students from my travels back into the North have started studying at BCU because of my guidance and stories. It feels good to be part of something bigger and give back to the University that has made it all happen.

The most challenging thing about being a student here is the work-life balance. Learning how to time manage and not be a typical student, leaving everything until the last minute, is a real problem for me. However, I’m slowly overcoming this by managing my time better and prioritising the right things.

Joining BCU was a scary experience, I moved from a different part of the country, where cultural diversity wasn’t really a thing. Moving to Birmingham was a huge culture shock for me, but the staff at BCU were all very friendly and joked on with me. Special thanks to John Higgins, who looked after me for two years as my personal tutor. His support got me through some rough times and helped ground me when I felt lost.

I’d say I’ve grown quite a lot as a person since joining BCU. I used to be scared to travel outside of my hometown, but now I’ve travelled all over the world, met a bunch of people from different cultures and made a lot of new friends. University has changed me for the better and really helped me come out of my shell more – now I know how to talk and work with others and deal with pressure.

To me, “I am BCU” means that I will continue to give back to our university in the future, making sure that future students continue to have opportunities like the ones I’ve had. I’ve been very lucky so far in my career and I hope I can give some of this luck to the next set of students. I encourage future students to get out of their comfort zone, try something new and don’t accept what you’re taught without questioning it. In networking, the true engineers are those who question everything and seek out knowledge almost instinctively. This is what I want to pass on to our future students."

 

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