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Having experienced a difficult start to life, Toni-Marie Perrin didn’t think herself capable of any sort of academic achievement. Toni’s childhood was a constant stream of social workers, solicitors and police officers, and by the age of 23, she had already gone through several highly traumatic experiences.
Toni said: “It was something that was embedded at an early stage – we just accepted that we
were poor and that the most I could hope for was to work part-time, have children and possibly
depend on a man.
“My childhood meant I had quite a lot of exposure to the court system; I never once thought I would actually become part of it. It just wasn’t something that people “like me” would do. But as I grew up and became a mother, I realised I was more capable of more than I had previously believed.”
Whilst at school, Toni didn’t once consider university; but as she grew older and had her own children, she came to realise that her experiences of the legal system had affected her in more ways than she had realised and she started looking at how she could help people growing up in similar circumstances.
“After doing some research I found the Access to Higher Education Diploma in Law, Psychology and Sociology, which would give me the entry requirements to study law at Plymouth University.
“Studying whilst raising three children – one of whom has additional needs – isn’t always easy. I’ve shed a lot of tears over this period, but my lecturers, Gemma, Rachel and Rebecca, have kept me inspired and motivated. They would always remind me that I was resilient and that I could do anything I put my mind to.
“I’m now a first year law student and I’m also working for the CAVA board (the Access awarding body) as a legal director. I hope to become a family law barrister, providing protection for vulnerable children. I feel my future is full of possibilities and that is thanks to Access, and I’m so pleased I did this course.”