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Why University Matters – Follow your passion

By Lucie Langley, Faculty Education Manager, Humanities and Social Sciences

University can have a tremendously positive impact on people and communities in all areas of life. It provides opportunities to enrich expertise and allows students to find and build on their great passions. Here we take a look at two Queen Mary students who have made the best of the experience.

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In 2020, Queen Mary’s former English Literature student Gabriel Krauze was nominated for the Booker Prize – which recognises the best novel written in English and published in the UK and Ireland.

Being nominated for the UK’s most prominent literary award is a stunning achievement under any circumstance. However, Gabriel’s nomination was even more remarkable considering, as he describes it, how he became involved in a life of crime at an early age, eventually overcoming this and forging a career as a successful novelist.

Gabriel Krauze said: “I’m very glad I made the decision to go to university – there’s no measuring what it’s done for me and it was an unforgettable experience. I’d definitely advise anyone with an interest or favourite subject at school to consider taking it one step further and going into higher education.”

Gabriel has previously spoken of his time at Queen Mary - how he ‘never ever wanted to be late or skip a lecture’. In a separate interview, he noted how he was drawn to the university by the English department’s stellar reputation, diverse mix of people, and impressive campus.

Queen Mary’s School of English and Drama underpins all its teaching with the belief that literature and ideas are powerful forces, and the impact they can have on transforming students’ futures is profound. Gabriel’s story is a perfect example of the role that university can play in helping to shape lives. And he is by no means the only one.

Earlier this year, Queen Mary Film Studies Student Conrad Khan was nominated for the BAFTA EE Rising Star Award – a nomination and award that honours a select number young actors who have demonstrated exceptional talent and ambition and begun to capture the imagination of the British public.

Conrad started acting at the age of 16 and has since graced screens with a number of television and cinematic roles. His work as an actor has furthered his interest in the various aspects of film, film making and the work behind the camera, which in turn has led to his studies at Queen Mary. The Film Studies course has allowed him to further his passion and understanding of cinematography. 

Conrad Khan said: “I’ve enjoyed my studies at Queen Mary so far, even if the pandemic has obviously meant that it’s been a bit different to ninety nine percent of people’s experiences. I always felt that if I didn’t get to go now then I might not ever have the chance, so I know I made the right choice.

“The support from the University has been great in allowing me to balance my work with filming roles at the same time, and I’m keen to continuing learning about something that has always captivated me.”

Every young person has their own passions. And everyone has dreams that they want to accomplish. Queen Mary believes in opening the doors of opportunity for anyone with the potential to succeed, whatever their background.

There are many routes in life, but university provides a solid foundation on which to learn and build on existing skills, alongside a once-in-a-lifetime experience that so many look back on fondly for years to come.