Learner Award Winner | Womenspire 2019

2nd March 2020
When Andrea completed an Agile Nation course it gave her the confidence to go on and fulfil her dream of graduating in law. During her studies she was awarded for her outstanding contribution and will soon complete an Applied Law and Criminology MA. Throughout she has also found time to run the Friendship Club for women with disabilities.

For the rest of my life, 2019 will always be a special year for me. I had been a mature student studying full time at Swansea University for the previous four years. After leaving school at 16 and becoming a mum, at the age of 49 years I had enrolled to study for an LLB Law degree.

It was my dream, but I had long believed it was destined to remain just that; I could not return to studies after 33 years, could I? – Why not? – there is no age limit to achieve your dreams! In July 2018 I graduated with an upper 2.1 (Hons) Law degree and I am the proudest woman on earth.

In April 2019 I received an email announcing I had been nominated for a Womenspire award, and initially I thought it was a joke. I had followed the awards for the previous three years, and I had read every story of previous winners. I never dreamed that I would ever actually be involved in the awards, although I had always wished I was.

Chwarae Teg is a very special and unique organisation, and it has special meaning for me. It was this organisation and the fantastic opportunities it offers women, that started me on my learning journey, and instilled in me the belief that I could achieve more for myself. The Agile Nation Leadership and Management course for women, provided me with the opportunity to evaluate my role in the workplace and through career development planning, it re-ignited my dream to study law.

On July 4th, 2019 I prepared for the Womenspire Awards held at St Fagans National Museum. I was unbelievably nervous and did not dare believe I could ever win it. I knew that just being part of this special occasion, celebrating phenomenal achievements of women from all walks of life, was an honour. I had told everyone and anyone that would listen that I had been nominated, and I had read the stories of the other three amazing finalists who had been shortlisted in my learner category. I had stiff competition, each of them would have been a worthy winner. I did not see how studying law, a subject I absolutely loved and was a pleasure to learn, compared to their achievements. Regardless of this I could not wait to get there and enjoy every single second of being part of this amazing event.

It was everything I imagined and more. I felt so unbelievably special walking up to the entrance, everyone looked so smart and the atmosphere was buzzing. It rates up there with one of the proudest achievements of my life, to be in the company of some very special, exceptional women. I would not want to judge the awards, it must be a very difficult task.

I had been to an interview with the judging panel as part of the decision-making process, and they were absolutely wonderful. I was so nervous, which makes me talk too much and laugh like a hyena. They must have realised however, and simply talked and laughed with me – it felt like chatting to a group of old friends – the best judges ever. Thank you, you made it possible for me to be coherent and tell my story.

The awards night really had a festival feel, and I felt like a celebrity. There was so much food on offer with a wide variety to choose from. There is so much to see at the venue that time simply flew by – too quick, I did not want the night to end. We took our seats for the presentation of the awards and if I am honest, I already felt like I was a winner. Being part of that special night, being there and savouring the whole experience. It was a rare occasion when I would say, it’s not about the winning but about the taking part.

I listened intently to each winning category and was in awe of what these special women were achieving. Strong, determined, clever and independent women, who made me proud to be in their company. It eventually turned to the learner category and my video came on. There I was laughing like a hyena on the screen, talking about studying law. I wished I could have looked intellectual, and I vowed to myself to diet immediately – but I did not think I had won….and the winner is ANDREA GARVEY, I could barely stand up.

I walked up to the stage and I felt ten feet tall – it was in this moment that I felt that I had not just been studying a subject I loved, but it was a big achievement and I embraced every single second. An unforgettable night!

I completed an MA in October 2019 and here we are. Studying law has changed me. It was the best thing I have ever done, and I feel like a phenomenal woman. I want to work in the legal profession and be a woman that men respect, and regard as an equal.

I want to inspire other women to believe their dreams are possible, never ever think it’s too late, or there is no point – it is never too late and there is every point. You will get to experience the same as me – a feeling of overwhelming satisfaction. To all of those who told me to stop dreaming and forget law, it will never happen – you were wrong – I proved them all wrong and it feels great.

I am a law graduate and I intend to make a difference, always striving to be the best I can be in the workplace. I am a Womenspire winner, and we shine like diamonds to inspire others.

16th Jan 2020
Womenspire | Celebrating amazing women in Wales