How Lancaster helped turn Isaac’s life around

Isaac Grinnell
Isaac Grinnell

Isaac Grinnell credits Lancaster University with giving him the confidence to transform his life for the better.

He arrived at university in 2018 after attending Smart Start, a university residential programme for students on the autism spectrum.

“I was very anxious about moving away from home, having a number of changes and being in an unfamiliar environment. Smart Start helped me immensely with this transition and adjustment and when I arrived a few weeks later I felt confident that I would be able to cope with university and studying. This was in part to the amazing Ambassadors that worked on the scheme.”

As part of his Politics degree, he also took advantage of the opportunity to do a paid placement year in the Houses of Parliament working for an MP.

“I always knew that I wanted to do a placement year of some sort, to really give me the chance to explore whether I would both be able to cope with doing a full-time job as well as what a career in politics could look like for me after graduating.

“During my placement year, I really built and developed the skills necessary for going into a job and it made me realise that I am capable of doing anything that I put my mind to and feel passionate about. Many would testify that there was a notable difference in my confidence level pre and post-placement as I had a particularly difficult second year, having very little confidence in myself and came out of my placement as a completely different person.”

As well as his Placement Year, Isaac also became a Student Ambassador.

“My work as a Student Ambassador and Student Ambassador Leader has only cemented my belief in my abilities. I have made the most of the experiences at university to build my own self-confidence and feel happy with myself.”

He has now returned to Smart Smart, but this time as a Team Leader who can talk about how the residential scheme has personally benefited him.

“I see being a Team Leader for Smart Start 2022 as a culmination of all the positive and challenging moments that have developed me during my time at Lancaster and a chance for me to give back and help to ensure that those who will be in a similar situation to what I was in before starting university can have a positive and worthwhile time at university. I see it mainly as me giving back to something that if I had been without, would have made my university experience much harder.”

He said he is a different person from when he arrived on campus as a nervous student.

“I am almost unrecognisable from what I was in October 2018 and on the whole university has been a massively important part of my development as a person and in gaining both skills and experiences for my future endeavours but also in terms of life and social skills. I have always really struggled with understanding social situations and interpreting them in a good way but thanks to the amazing friends that I have made and the experiences that I have had, I have been able to really improve these skills that other people take for granted.”

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