18 February 2021
We were delighted to give this year’s Study4Success award to deserving Middlesex University student Rhys Ridge.

Study4Success provides free accommodation for first year Middlesex undergraduates who’ve come from a social housing background and who’ve made a difference in their community.

Rhys, who’s studying for a degree in Robotics, said:

“I applied for Study4Success because my family have never had a lot of money and I was looking for ways to help fund me through university – it can be financially straining.

The award has meant I can stay in Platt Hall for the first year, which is great. One of my other options had been to stay at home but it’s a relatively small place and I share a room with my brother. It would’ve been difficult to concentrate.

It’s been a big change going away from home for the first time – especially during everything that’s been going on. It’s my first time being alone, without my family. But my mum did teach me a lot of important skills – like cooking and cleaning – before I left.

I’m really enjoying myself and the course. My classes have been online only so far but it’s going really well.”

Volunteer work

Rhys, 18, impressed the Optivo Students team with his volunteer work at an after-school club near his home in Brixton, London.

He said: “It was a club I had gone to when I was young. When I started volunteering myself, I knew a lot of the kids I was helping to look after. I helped to set up activities like dance, table tennis, basketball and football.  We’d also give lessons on different things, like culture, we’d feed them, and we’d have fun until their parents came to collect them. I really enjoyed it.”

Making rockets for NASA

Rhys, who’s the first one in his family to go to university, says his dream is to work on rockets for NASA one day.

He added: “I come from a long line of mechanics. Building things, like cars, and fixing things has been part of my life since I was born. I was into anything on wheels – roller skates, motorbikes and cars.

My dad and I would watch TV programmes about fixing up cars. He fixed up a lot of cars and sold them, I would help him.

My dad died when I was 14 but I know he’d be really proud of what I’ve achieved. Where I’m from, there are a lot of people who’ve gone astray. I’ve seen what that does to people. I want to do better.”
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