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Compass points to legal success

A student on Birkbeck’s pioneering Compass Project, which helps refugees and asylum seeking communities access educational opportunities in the UK, has been awarded the prize for Best Essay on the CertHE Legal Method at the College’s School of Law Awards.

Janahan Sivanathan was awarded an essay prize at Birkbeck's School of Law awards.

Having previously been refused an education due to his immigration status and difficulties with English, Compass Project student Janahan Sivanathan’s perseverance and potential were finally recognised as he received the prize for Best Essay for Certificate of Higher Education (Legal Method) at Birkbeck’s School of Law Awards on Friday 11 January 2019.

Held at the Law Society in Chancery Lane, the heart of London’s legal district, the annual School of Law Awards recognise the achievements of students and recent graduates across all courses in Birkbeck’s Departments of Law and Criminology. During the evening, past and present students were commended for their efforts in areas of academic achievement, their contributions to the intellectual and social community of the School of Law, and their perseverance.

The CertHE Legal Method at Birkbeck is one route for students to demonstrate this perseverance, as the year-long course provides an opportunity to learn the skills needed for a degree in Law and is widely recognised as an entry qualification for a range of Law degrees. Also no stranger to the need for perseverance to achieve academic aspirations is winner Janahan, whose participation in the Compass Project has enabled him to complete the CertHE Legal Method and progress on to study Law full-time at Birkbeck.

Speaking of his experience, Janahan said: “I received an email stating I was nominated for a School of Law award for the essay I wrote on Human Rights. It was shocking for me to see how far I have actually come. Where there were instances I was refused education due to my immigration status as well as my poor English, now I was awarded for best essay in the language once I was deemed to have no qualifications at. 

“Even though my dream is to become a solicitor to advocate for the betterment of refugees, I didn't have a plan. However, I was given a starting point at the Certificate of Higher Education in Legal Methods by Birkbeck, through the Compass Project. Now I am proud and confident to say that I am a full-time Law student at Birkbeck who is on an organised and well-supported journey towards this dream.”

Dr Susy Menis, Lecturer in the Department of Law, presented Janahan’s award. She said: “The CertHE is a great programme for those not sure whether they want to progress onto a degree, exactly as in the case of Janahan- now he is taking the LLB QLD at Birkbeck School of Law. It is so rewarding to see the CertHE students not only successfully completing the programme and progressing onto the LLB but also their hard work and resilience being recognised at the awards evening organised by the School of Law.”

Essay prizes were also awarded to Rebecca Sparrow for Best Critical Essay; Anas Sallami for Best Essay on Sexuality or Gender; and Kyna Graham for Best Essay for Certificate of Higher Education (Criminology). Suelem Albuquerque and Amma Donkor were also awarded a School of Law Prize on the CertHE (Legal Method), for improvement throughout the degree and excellent performance respectively.

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