Merhawi Haile graduated from City of Oxford College with an Engineering Level 3 diploma in 2020 and took a place on a Mechanical Engineering and Design degree course at Oxford Brookes University.
He first came to the UK at just 16-years-old and, in his words, “couldn’t speak any English at all”.
He began to study English as a foreign language while studying for his GCSEs. After plenty of hard work, he got good grades in his GCSE and joined the engineering pathway at the college.
“Since I was young, I’d always had a fascination with cars. I was really interested in computers, electronics and my physics and mathematics grades were good, so joining the engineering course was a natural step for me.
"I went to the physics department first to see what it was like, get to know it a bit better and meet the teachers. I joined and I’ve enjoyed it ever since!
"It’s been a lot of hard work, learning how to use the milling machines, the lathes, etc, but now I’ll be going onto a mechanical engineering and design course at Brookes university and I’m really excited about that.”
When asked about his current objectives and hopes for the future, Merhawi’s goal is simple, “to get as qualified as I can before I’m 30. I’m 21 now and just starting my bachelor’s degree, so that will take three years and after that, I hope to do some work placements, join a company and get trained up there. After a few years of practical experience, I’m hoping to re-enter education and do a Master’s degree. Then I can maybe open my own company, perhaps.
“The Careers and Advice Team at City of Oxford College were so helpful in getting me through my courses and helping me to figure out where I wanted to go. Once I was told I had an offer from Oxford Brookes, I jumped at the chance as Oxford is like my home now, and that’s in large part to the college. Without their support, the support of all the tutors and staff, I wouldn’t be where I am now, so I have to say a massive thank you to them. I’ll always be grateful to them.
"I felt like my English teacher Gill Cartmel was like another mother almost! She really understood what I was going through and what it was like for me coming to the UK at aged 16. She used to give me so much advice and encouragement…she would tell me that I was really going to be someone, someday, so I just admire her so much. Her, Katie Tuck and Jo Huys were very, very helpful. All the teachers and staff just around the place were so great. Even though I couldn’t speak English so well at first, nobody treated me badly; everyone was really encouraging me to speak more, be confident and use my English.”
It’s clear that Merhawi has really enjoyed his time at City of Oxford college, adding that his teachers prepared him well for exams so he could achieve the best possible grades.
“I highly recommend people to go to the college! The staff are so friendly and polite and really helpful.”