Education has always been at the forefront of inspirational student Samantha Skene’s mind.
The 24-year-old, who spent much of her early life in care, will share her personal experiences at a special Teesside University event which will look at ways in which the lives of care leavers can be improved.
Samantha is among guest speakers at the Opening Doors for Care Leavers’ Hackathon, taking place at Teesside University on Saturday 9 November. This free, public event aims to explore the challenges faced by care leavers and try and find solutions to the problems.
Author and broadcaster Lemn Sissay, who was the official poet of the London 2012 Olympics, is also speaking at the event, along with musician Dylan Cartlidge, who appeared in BBC documentary The Mighty Redcar. Lemn and Dylan also grew up in foster care and will be sharing their experiences of the care system.
Samantha, who is completing the FdA Performing Arts and aims to progress to the BA (Hons) Performing Arts (Top-up), says she has always wanted to learn and continue her education.
Middlesbrough-born Samantha spent her early childhood living with different foster carers, split between time with her mum, before moving into a children’s residential care home in her teens.
She said: “I experienced a lot of upheaval and life was chaotic. I felt a lot of anger and confusion at being moved around a lot when I was younger. Despite this, I have always been keen to learn as I felt that amidst all the chaos, learning was something I could focus on and retain some control over.”
Samantha completed her GCSEs, adding: “University was always my plan, I had always wanted to go as no-one else had in my family. Education was a personal goal I continuously set for myself.”
She managed to secure a college place, while dealing with the enormous transition from children’s care home to independent living in her own flat. Health issues also impacted on her studies, but she continued to overcome any hurdle and setback she faced as she strived to realise her ambition of becoming a professional actress.
“You only get one life. It has been a struggle and difficult at times, but education has always been prominent in my mind,” said Samantha, whose ambition is to work as a professional actress.
The Opening Doors for Care Leavers Hackathon will be held at Teesside University on Saturday 9 November from 9am to 10pm. For more information and to book a place register here.