DMU changed my life and made my creative career

An award-winning New York rapper has thanked De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) for giving her the means to fulfil her dreams.

Raeganmainimage

Raegan Sealy has established herself as a musician, writer and poet in the Big Apple, travelling and performing around the USA.

Since graduating from DMU in 2014 with a First in Creative Writing and Drama, she has won more than $100,000 in prizes, including a Fulbright Scholarship to study for an MFA in Creative Writing at The New School for Public Engagement in New York City (NYC).

The Fulbright Program is one of the most prestigious and competitive fellowship programmes in the world. Fulbright alumni include 84 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 71 MacArthur Fellows, 59 Nobel Prize Winners and one Secretary General of the United Nations.

Raegan first came to Leicester aged 13 in a foster-care placement in Birstall. She now uses her history of domestic violence, addiction and sexual abuse to empower others through her work as an artist and advocate, and last year launched her own non-profit, Sound Board, which provides creative programming to the most at-risk communities in NYC.

Raegan said: “I chose to study at DMU as it was near enough to home, which was Thurmaston at the time, so I could keep my job at Next and still attend classes.

“Also my mum, Kate, my biggest inspiration, graduated from DMU the year before me. Watching her change her life was what made me feel able to do it too.

“She sat her maths GCSE at the same time as my little brother, and did a counselling course to get into DMU and study Law in the evenings after work.

“No one in my family on either side had ever gone to university before then. It hadn’t seemed an option to me until then. But it changed everything.

“I have a lot to thank DMU for. It changed my life and made my creative career. I sobered up at DMU, through the Drug and Alcohol Service at the NHS Surgery on Mill Lane, and I’ve been sober five years now.”

While studying at DMU, Raegan was the recipient of both the Vice-Chancellor’s Student Support Fund and the #DMUglobal Bursary, which enabled her to accept a writing residency in Portugal and sparked her travel bug.

The VC Fund was launched in 2010 to provide prizes to deserving students whose studies and university experience would benefit from increased financial support.

It has helped students to succeed in times of hardship, both in education and life outside of university. The small gesture of this award has had a big impact in being able to assist students with paying for bills; buying course materials and accessing support networks. 

All fee-paying degree students who formally accept their place onto an overseas #DMUglobal opportunity usually receive a #DMUglobal bursary. As long as they meet the eligibility criteria, they are able to receive #DMUglobal bursaries in a single academic year running from 1 September 2018 to 31 August 2019.

Raegan now lives in New York and said: “Rapping, writing, singing and poetry were always my outlets: a means to be expressive creatively instead of destructively, and that’s what most kids need. It’s just about tapping into that channel.”

She is also a TED Resident and will be giving a TED Talk in December.

Raegan’s message to students is: “Use everything you can while you are here, the resources is here. You have access to everything you could want - don’t sleep on that.”

Posted on Wednesday 26th September 2018

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