Skip to main content

Head and shoulders image of Durham student Abbie Doherty and Durham alumnus Cameron Stocks with UUK's 100 Faces campaign border

The success of two students from Durham University who were the first in their families to attend university is being highlighted in a new national campaign, led by Universities UK (UUK).

UUK’s ‘100 Faces’ campaign celebrates the stories and achievements of students and graduates who were the first in their family to go to university. It calls for political parties to commit to better financial support for students.

Achieving career ambitions

The campaign shines the spotlight on the achievements of graduates such as Cameron Stocks from East Durham who was the first in his family to attend university and who now works for a prestigious London law firm.

Cameron studied Law at Durham University from 2011-2014 and attended St Mary’s College.

He now works as a barrister at Gatehouse Chambers in London.

He talks about how attending university has helped him achieve his career ambitions.: “Growing up in a small mining village in East Durham, attending university always felt out of reach and no-one else in my family had attended university before.

“I vividly recall a conversation with a careers advisor at school during which I said I would like to be a barrister and I was told, ‘have you thought about being a police officer? That is legal too.’

“It was not until the outreach team from Durham University attended my school to advertise the inaugural year of the Supported Progression programme that I felt that university would be possible for me and that a place at Durham might not be as unobtainable as I thought.

“The scheme was vital in exposing me to the university and assisting me both pastorally and financially to pursue a law degree at Durham.

“Durham is well-respected within the legal profession and I do not think that my journey to becoming a barrister would have been as smooth if it had not been for the skills and experience that I gained at Durham.

“This ranged from my rigorous degree programme, to learning to skydive with the FreeFall Society and to being president of the Pro Bono Society, during which I established a programme for students to volunteer in local Citizens Advice Bureaus.

“In addition to this, I also came full circle with the outreach team at Durham, becoming a Senior Student Ambassador for the University working on all student outreach events including as a mentor on the Supported Progression scheme for the next generation of students.”

Taking a leap to do something new

Also featured in the campaign is current student Abbie Doherty who is in her third year of a degree in Earth Sciences. Originally from Leicester, Abbie was also the first in her family to attend university.

Abbie talks about the profound impact university has had on her future ambitions, and recalls: “Going to university for me was an absolute maze, and even getting to Durham challenged me in ways I didn’t expect. Now as a third year, I am still learning all sorts of things, not just academically, but about myself.

Coming here has really transformed my life into something brilliant, better than I ever thought it could be growing up.

“My degree has allowed me to travel to different places, going to both Spain and northern Scotland in my second year, as well as learning about my subject hands on.

“I also get to work as a student ambassador and meet young people figuring out the world of higher education, just like I was a few years ago.

I’ve tried out many different sports, specifically gymnastics and trampoline. I was completely new to both sports, and now I compete against other universities from across the north, and beyond, as well as being one of the gymnastics captains.

“This all goes to show that taking that leap to do something new can really work out in the most wonderful of ways. I have loved every minute of this challenge, and the people I have met along the way.”

Well done to Cameron, Abbie and all our other first-generation scholars on their inspiring achievements at university and beyond.

Find out more