Since graduating with First-Class Honours, I’ve already secured a commission as part of an Arts Council England and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council-funded project to address the narrative of a segregated Blackburn.

I decided to study at the University Centre at Blackburn College because it was the closest and most convenient place to pursue what I wanted. I also visited other universities and was disappointed by the lack of studio space, so I knew studying at Blackburn would allow me to unleash my creativity without any limits. I previously studied A-Levels at Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School, so coming to study at Blackburn was a welcoming change in environment that allowed me to redefine myself as a person, while still maintaining my roots. The fact that I was so close to home meant a lot to my parents and also meant that I could continue going about my day-to-day life as normal – as I worked at a nearby mosque.

In the second year of university I got married and was concerned that married life would get in the way of my studies. This wasn’t the case because studying at the University Centre at Blackburn College is incredibly flexible. I was able to conduct all the research I needed to and complete the necessary work within my studio hours. Coincidentally, I learned that my husband was also from an arts background and had also graduated from the University Centre at Blackburn College. Our similar backgrounds meant that he understood the time and effort that went into creating work and his family openly embraced my efforts and interests.

The tutors at the University Centre at Blackburn College gave the word support a whole new definition and always went out of their way to listen and help me overcome any brain blocks. They always encouraged me to pursue my ideas, even if they seemed really farfetched, so that I could come to any realisations independently. This was instrumental in helping me understand myself as an artist and the abilities I have. As a Muslim, there were certain things I felt uncomfortable participating in and I was always given an alternative opportunity to ensure I received the full university experience.

Programme leader Jamie Holman really transformed the Fine Art degree and how we studied. From drawing to painting to 3D model creation; he developed us into multi-disciplinary contemporary artists through a number of commissions and opportunities we wouldn’t have received anywhere else. Whether it was the National Festival of Making or commissions through Super Slow Way, we were encouraged to respond to open calls and opportunities anywhere we could and were able to raise our profiles as artists as a result. We even renovated and created a local gallery space – PRISM Contemporary – which has exhibited a number of renowned artists since its opening. The many hours of effort and dedication in maintaining the space transformed our year group into a close-knit community of artists.

My time on the degree allowed me to open up as a person and get to know myself and what kind of an artist I really am. I realised my potential was far and above what I initially thought and that the sky really is the limit. I now know that the fear of not gaining anything with an arts degree was completed unfounded and untrue and that the possibilities for artists are limitless. Becoming a more open person with a broader outlook also enabled me to grow my confidence and as a result, I’ve become a much better speaker and communicator as a whole.

Since graduating with First-Class Honours, I’ve already secured a commission as part of an Arts Council England and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council-funded project to address the narrative of a segregated Blackburn. I intended to keep producing work and exhibiting as part of open calls. I will continue participating and delivering workshops and someday would like to pursue a PGCE so that I can follow in the footsteps of my tutors.