CJ is proof that anyone can make a change

Our Festival of Learning partner, Hotcourses have featured an interview with 2017 Social Impact Award Winner, CJ Burge to learn more about her experience with adult education.

CJ Burge has come on leaps and bounds following a stint in prison abroad at a young age. Education essentially became her lifeline and now she’s on course to graduating with a first-class degree in Law.

Her arrest set the wheels in motion where CJ found herself embracing learning. Education was essential for her survival.

Faced with a nine-and-a-half-year sentence and a harsh prison environment in Japan, education was the one thing that kept her sane in a strict regime. Thanks to a Prisoner Transfer Agreement between Japan and the UK, CJ was able to get a transfer back to the UK after serving a third of her sentence. CJ was able to obtain a ROTL (Release on Temporary License) where she volunteered within the community. She chose to a Level 3 course in Advice and Guidance with St. Giles Trust, which was equivalent to two A Levels.

She’s since gone on to work at St. Giles Trust, a charity that helps disadvantaged people overcome issues and find jobs, homes and the support they need to become positive contributors to society. Giving back was incredibly important to CJ as she reflected on the effects of adult learning and how significant it had been throughout her journey. As adults, learning and furthering our education may not be a priority especially when we’re working full time jobs. However, CJ is proof that no matter what situation you find yourself in, education can offer a lifeline to better opportunities.

So what advice would she give to people who are thinking about getting back into education, but perhaps feels apprehensive?

Whether people are facing an uphill struggle or simply want to better themselves, CJ’s story is proof that anyone can make a change with enough determination.

“We are all just normal people, just average people. I made a terrible mistake, so to just have that acknowledgement and recognition and encouragement is beautiful, there’s nothing more I can say.”

You can read and listen to CJ’s full interview here