Dr Matthew Channon
I began mypathtolaw in Exeter at a local state school, St James. It is fair to say that I was an average student, not really at the top of my class but I was performing well at most subjects. At the time I wasn’t really sure exactly where my career would take me, but I knew that I wanted to succeed in the future. I applied to go to Exeter College to study Law amongst other subjects, however, I was aware that my English mock results were far from adequate to get a place in college. I had always struggled with English and I was in a class which really struggled. However due to hard work and constant late evenings I managed to gain the grades necessary.
When at Exeter College, I began to feel really out of my depth, there were some immensely talented students who were vying for places at top Universities. I really enjoyed my Law A-Level but I never really thought about going to University, first because of the fear of homesickness and second because no-one else from my immediate family had ever gone to University. I am from a working class background and never really thought that I would have the skills to get the University, let alone study for a Law Degree. However, due to hard work, determination and encouragement from my A Level Law Lecturer I worked tirelessly and was offered a place at the University of Glamorgan.
My first year at University was the most difficult I had ever encountered, I was massively struggling with homesickness and felt like I was going to be out of my depth. How could I match up to some of the brightest people I had met? Someone from my background shouldn’t be here? Luckily things improved and I realised that I was capable of doing very well and due to the support of lecturers I ended up with a good 2:1 Degree.
I knew once I had completed a Dissertation in my third year at University that I wanted to go further and explore other areas of law and that’s why I chose to study for an LLM at Exeter. Again, I felt slightly out of my depth as I was coming to a top law school with some of the best students, but this is where I thrived gaining a Distinction and writing an excellent dissertation in Insurance Law.
I had further challenges when I decided to do a self-funded PhD. I was lucky enough for my parents to agree to let me live with them whilst not paying rent, but I also needed to hold down a part time job in a Pub working late nights on the weekends to help me pay my fees. This again was a challenge but luckily in my third year I was offered a part time Teaching Fellowship at the University of Southampton and then a Lectureship at the University of Exeter. This is where I am now, researching into Autonomous Vehicles and teaching the future generations of practitioners and academics.
Looking back my biggest challenge was my self-confidence, I had the attitude that due to my background, I didn’t deserve to be at University nor find a good job in the future. If I could go back 10 years I would tell myself that this is not true. Yes it is still not as easy for those from non-privileged backgrounds to get to where they want to be, but hardwork and determination can certainly help put you in a better position. This is why I am committed to breaking down barriers for future students who were in similar positions as me and why I took the step of creating the mypathtolaw hashtag.