Architecture student Robert Gomez is in no doubt that without a Stephen Lawrence Scholarship he would not be at university right now.
The 20-year-old, from Aylesbury, in Buckinghamshire, is studying Architecture at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) and it has all been made possible thanks to the bursary he was awarded.
Architecture was the dream for Robert Gomez
Robert said: “Different people have different backgrounds and people’s financial situations are not the same. I needed the financial help of a bursary or it would have been a case of me not going to university.
“The bursary has completely changed my time at DMU. It means I can spend more of the day focussing on the course rather than having to worry about other stuff.
“If this bursary was not in place it would have been incredibly difficult to manage university life.
“I am enjoying the course. When you are given a brief in the first year of study you can go wild with it. You are allowed to go crazy. You can create a building and then turn it on its head. You have the freedom of creativity. I think it’s a different story from the second year onwards!
“Architecture was the dream for me since secondary school. The bursary has solidified that dream and is turning it into reality.
“Hopefully in a few years’ time I will be running my own practice. It is a long journey but it’s got to be done when it comes to having ambitions in your life.”
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Like every recipient of the Stephen Lawrence Scholarship at DMU, Robert is hugely grateful to Stephen’s mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence – the former Chancellor of DMU – her family and the Stephen Lawrence Foundation.
“I heard about the Stephen Lawrence Scholarship when I was looking through the DMU website as I was applying for different universities,” Robert said.
“I read other people’s stories about how the scholarship had helped them. So I sent an email to the Transitions Team and they said I could be eligible
“I was aware of the Stephen Lawrence story but not as much as I am now. You cannot help but read Stephen’s story and think ‘that could be me’ and it gets me thinking about what would I do.
“Stephen’s parents set up the bursary and have ensured he has a legacy of helping students get the higher education that they deserve.”
Baroness Lawrence open the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre
The Stephen Lawrence Research Centre and DMU provide bursaries for students who would not normally have the opportunity or finances to go to university.
Stephen was just 18 when he was tragically murdered by racists in an attack in South East London on 22 April 1993. In 2018, on the 25th anniversary of Stephen’s death, then Prime Minister Theresa May announced that a national day of commemoration in his name would take place on 22 April every year.
The SLRC was officially opened on the DMU campus in 2019 by Stephen’s mother Baroness Doreen Lawrence, the former Chancellor of DMU, and focusses on giving students and young people a voice to help create a society which treats everyone with fairness and respect.
Baroness Lawrence still works with the SLRC and DMU students to continue Stephen’s legacy and has campaigned tirelessly for the last 29 years to promote a positive legacy in her son’s name. The SLRC and DMU also provide bursaries for students who would not normally have the opportunity or finances to go to university.
Speaking at DMU in 2019, Baroness Lawrence said: “I have not spent my years focusing on all the bad things, I don’t think I could have carried on if I had done that. Instead, I look forward and work to make change - and that’s what I hope the Stephen Lawrence Day will inspire others to do too, especially young people.”
It took Baroness Lawrence and her lawyer Imran Khan QC 18 years to finally see justice for Stephen when two men were found guilty of his murder and the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, which investigated why it took so long, found the Metropolitan Police to be institutionally racist.
Find out more about DMU's Stephen Lawrence Research Centre
Posted on Tuesday 28th June 2022