“Having experienced life in three different countries, Liverpool Hope feels like home,” Nathan Brown starts by telling us. “I was born in Bristol but only lived over in the UK for the first three years of my life. After that, my family moved to France and we lived in Lyon for six years. When I was nine, we moved over to Singapore. It was obviously a completely different culture to both of the countries I’d lived in before – it’s very hot and humid as well.”
When the time came to decide on where he wanted to go to university, the decision was a fairly easy one for Nathan. “I felt like university was the perfect opportunity to gain some independence and explore the country that I was born in. My two older brothers also came to study over here – and both actually still live down in London – so that definitely influenced my decision.
“When I first saw Liverpool Hope University, it was an instant attraction,” he continues. “It’s such an aesthetic campus and there are loads of great facilities, including the sports centre and business school. In Singapore, I went to quite a small school – I had about 40 people in my year – so the fact that everyone here was so friendly and welcoming kind of made my decision for me.”
Nathan enrolled as an undergraduate with Liverpool Hope later that year; a change which definitely took a little time to get used to. “It was definitely another culture shock moving back to England. It’s just a completely different environment,” he said. “Obviously, temperature is a big one but it’s more about the way everyone has grown up. Life is more centralised towards one town or city, whereas I haven’t grown up like that.”
With his parents half way across the world, moving away for university came with its challenges. “It was hard. My parents and I travelled over here in the September when I moved into halls and it was very hard saying goodbye,” he said, pointing out that he only sees them over the summer and Christmas breaks. “You do get used to it though. I was put straight into a flat with four others, so you have people there as soon as you move in. There are also loads of events going on in the halls over the first few weeks, so you get to meet a whole bunch of different people very quickly.”
When we spoke to Nathan, he was two years into his Business Management and Sport & Physical Education degree. “We recently had the opportunity to set up our own start-up company with the Young Enterprise Scheme that the university organises,” he said.
Nathan and his team went on to set up Tranquillity, a mental health awareness company. “We host events at schools and universities, as well as selling merchandise. At the moment, we’re trying to put things in place so that we can get some more revenue streams, which means that we can give more of a percentage to our partnered charity, Mind, on the Wirral. The more we can give to them, the more they’ll be able to increase their facilities for their community.”
From France, to Singapore, to England, Nathan wants to keep travelling after his degree. “I feel really fortunate to have experienced life in three different countries, they are all so completely different and it’s been amazing. But I don’t think I’m finished yet – I think that I will move abroad again," he said.
"I’m used to moving around and would love to see more of the world. If I could run my own business and be successful whilst travelling, that would be the ultimate goal.”
When Pippa came to Hope, it was with a clear career goal in mind. “I would love to be a Care Manager or Mental Health Professional,” she said. “If I could influence policy, especially policy related to mental health, then that would be even better.”
But the journey to discovering her passion wasn’t an easy one. “After I finished my A Levels, I started studying fashion in London,” she explained. “But it wasn’t a close knit community like Hope and I wasn’t impressed with the course or the way it made me feel.”
Struggling with her own self-doubt and lacking confidence in her choice of degree, Pippa was presented with the opportunity to model in her first fashion show. “It helped to build up my confidence and I’m definitely less afraid to do and try new things now,” she said. “Obviously, it is nerve-wracking walking in front of people you don’t know, but it helped me realise that it was time for a change. So, I took a risk and decided to take some time out from my studies to see what types of work I enjoyed.”
Throwing herself into the working world, Pippa took jobs in many different areas, including both Modelling and Social Care. “Modelling in particular can be tough,” she said. “It’s an environment where you don’t have many people to talk to. The intensified social situations, passive aggression and futile competition meant that resilience was a must. It’s a trait that I had to learn pretty quickly.
“I just felt like I needed to be somewhere where I was contributing to the world a bit more,” she continued. “So, when an opportunity came up to work in the Health and Social Care sector, I went for it. I was confident in my abilities to understand and care for others, a quality that was brought on by being partially marginalised in the past,” she said when explaining why the industry appealed to her.
“It’s a serious job and, as a 20-year-old with no prior experience, it was extremely nerve-wracking,” she continued. “But, thankfully, I loved it and my managers were really encouraging and said that I was doing really well in the role.”
It was during this job that Pippa decided to throw herself back into university. “I realised that I wanted to be a little more influential in the industry, so the obvious next step is to get a degree,” she explained. “When I came to an Open Day at Hope, all I kept thinking was ‘this is it’! It’s just so beautiful and it’s so me.”
And Pippa wasn’t afraid to throw herself into her life at Hope. “What haven’t I got involved in?” she said with a laugh. “I joined the African Caribbean Society and have just started the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award. I also visit the employability hub a lot and really like all the help there is on campus.
“I’ve actually decided to set up a baking society as I like making unique cakes,” she said, before adding, “Cherry cake and honey cake are two of my personal favourites. I love it here and definitely prefer living up North – the people are so helpful!”
From being unsure of her future, to flourishing in an environment that supports her, Hope has helped Pippa take one step closer to her goal of influencing mental health policy. “I’ve transformed as a person, both mentally and physically. I started out on the wrong tracks but I took a risk, made a change and have found something that gives me a sense of purpose. And with Hope’s help and guidance, I hope to one day drive a positive change for the wellbeing of future generations.”