21-year-old Kirstie Ann Duncan was crowned Student of the Year at the 2020 Virtual College Awards. Last year she also won the F&C Investment Trust Prize for her video about how Generation Z can invest in their future. We spoke to Kirstie about her time at college and her future aspirations…

What did you study at City of Glasgow College?

‘I chose to study Legal Services (HND) at City of Glasgow College because I saw it as a very prestigious college. I was impressed that there was a variety of study options at different levels. Also, at the time a lot of my friends were applying to university, but I wasn’t ready to commit to a four-year degree yet as I wasn’t sure what subject I wanted to study.’

Can you tell us about the group that you set up for care experienced students in the college?

‘I wanted to do this to make students aware of all the resources that are available in and outside of the college – not everyone knows about them. I’m aware of a lot of different organisations due to my background in care, and I wanted to be a friendly face to tell students all about it.’

How did your placement at law firm Brodies LLP come about?

‘This came about thanks to the college’s Legal Initiative Pathways programme, where lecturers put forward students for opportunities in a legal environment. It was the first one that was set up and I was put forward for an interview along with two other students. I was very well prepared for the interview, which went very well, and I got a call the next day saying that I got the placement! I was on placement for one week in January 2020 and learnt a great deal when I was there.’

How does it feel to be a role model to other students?

‘It’s quite funny really, I never saw myself as a role model until it was pointed out to me! I love that I am someone people look up to, and I want people to realise they can do anything. It’s great to be someone that students can turn to for advice. I might not be able to answer everything, but it’s great to be able to point people in the right direction.’

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your life?

‘The pandemic completely changed my life and affected it in so many ways. I am very fortunate that I wasn’t alone in the first national lockdown that we had. Before the lockdown, I had various work experiences lined up and was planning to spend my summer travelling Asia. Thankfully, the solicitors I worked with agreed to take me on after the lockdown, which I am very grateful for. I sadly had to move back home for lockdown, which was a very big change in my life as I hadn’t permanently lived at home since I was 18, and where I come from is very small compared to Glasgow! I’m grateful for the time I got to spend at home and luckily nobody in my village got the virus. I’m happy that a lot of things can be done virtually, and I can still receive my education from Strathclyde University, where I am now studying Scots Law.’

Can you tell us about the voluntary work that you did in your local community during lockdown?

‘In my area, there were a lot of vulnerable, elderly people, who were at high risk during the first lockdown. I volunteered by dropping off shopping and prescriptions for the elderly who didn’t have any family members to do this for them.’

What’s next for you?

‘Long term my goal is to pass my degree. I’m really excited for the next few years of learning in my degree and I hope to pass with good grades. Besides academics I would love to travel and see more of the world outside of Europe, and potentially go on my Asia trip at some point this year. I want to learn about new cultures and experience new things. Obviously, this all depends on the pandemic, but I am hopeful!’

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