The School's collaboration with Mitt Livs Val changes the future for young people
Through the collaboration with Mitt Livs Val, the students at the School of Business, Economics and Law have contributed to a greater belief in the future for newly immigrated adolescents
Once a month, the student mentors Alexander and Sara meet high school students, who have recently immigrated to Sweden, at the School of Business, Economics and Law. The meetings are organised by the foundation Mitt Livs Val (eng: My Life's Choice) with the purpose of increasing young people’s motivation and inspire to higher education after graduation.
The foundation Mitt Livs Val was founded during the Swedish refugee situation in 2015, with the intention of working for an inclusive society where young people have the opportunity to influence their own future. The initiative is targeting adolescents between the ages of 16-23 who are new in Sweden. Since the start, they have supported 1,400 people nationally.
Mollie Wellander has since 2019 been Programme Coordinator and coordinated Mitt Livs Val study meetings at the School. According to her, education is an important key to increasing community participation and to counteracting social exclusion, low employment and segregation. She believes that gaining knowledge about educational opportunities is crucial for newly arrived young people to be able to build their future.
"Being young and new in a society can be tough. It can be difficult to navigate, especially when it comes to school, the Swedish language and upcoming study- and career choices. Our study-motivational programmes strengthen young people's study motivation, knowledge of education and faith in the future. We engage university students as mentors and role models in the programmes. Based on their own experiences and studies, they guide and support young people towards their goals and dreams."
The adolescents that the study-motivational programmes aim towards is one of the most underrepresented groups in higher education in Sweden today. Together with students, lecturers and role models, Mitt Livs Vals' initiative wants to lower the threshold for higher education and, in the long term, the labour market.
Experiences for the future and the opportunity to influence people
Since the autumn of 2018, the School of Business Economics and Law has collaborated with Mitt Livs Val to support young people towards their goals and dreams. The student Adam Said is studying a Language Introduction programme at Angeredsgymnasiet. After a school visit by Mollie at Mitt Livs Val, Adam became curious about their study-motivational programmes and signed up to participate. He is very proud of himself and the decision he made. Before, he thought that it would be difficult to study at a university when you have recently immigrated to Sweden, but today he has changed his mind.
"The study-motivational programmes have affected me in different ways. For example, I have become much better at Swedish, met several new friends from the programme and become more interested in continuing my studies at a university."
During the autumn, Adam had the opportunity to work extra as a Trainee, and together with Mollie, he helps to coordinate the meetings. The opportunity has taught him to take responsibility and become more confident to speak in front of people. He says that before the extra job, he was shy and thought it was difficult to stand in front of people, but that he today stands in front of people and speak unhindered.
The meetings function as a space for young people and students to do interactive and dialogue-based group meetings. During the meetings, they discuss education and studies, do study exercises, practice Swedish and listen to inspiring lecturers. Alexander Nejati and Sara Hammond both study the Bachelor’s programme in Law at the School and are study mentors for young people.
For almost a year, Sara has been a student mentor at Mitt Livs Vals programme. She thinks that the best thing has been to meet the fantastic young people, give them the opportunity to achieve their goals and guide them towards their future dreams.
"It really is such a fantastic experience and feeling to be able to help someone else concretise their goals, find ways to get there and be an inspiration.
"It really is such a fantastic experience and feeling to be able to help someone else concretise their goals, find ways to get there and be an inspiration. It is very rewarding. It is also only about a few hours a week, but these hours become important and you look forward to them a lot. I will always carry with me the lessons and experiences I gained after these meetings and I can only hope that the young people I met feel the same way."
Alexander, who is studying his second semester at the School, thinks that the meetings with young people give him more motivation and inspiration in his daily life.
"The best thing about these meetings is that you recognise yourself in many of these young people. Many times, they remind me of myself, when I see how driven they are. Their motivation and drive have been contagious.”
Important work that makes a difference for individuals and society
The evaluations of the initiative show several positive aspects that not only benefit the individuals who participate but also contribute to great societal benefits. Mitt Livs Val's latest study shows that 87% had an increased study motivation and that 93% of the youth participants have a better knowledge of higher education and educational paths after graduating high school. 98% have expanded their social network, an effect that creates the conditions for coping with school and participating in society on equal terms.
After graduation, the high school student Adam hopes to study at the university and work with social matters, perhaps within the UN. He and his friends participating in the programme are very thankful for the foundation’s initiative.
"Thanks to Mitt Livs Val I have kept myself motivated in school. I have received help with my personal study goals and finding the right education for the future, something I would never have known if it were not for our study meetings. Now I know what to do after high school."
For the student's Alexander and Sara, who have been mentors to Adam and his friends, the participation has meant a lot and given experience for the future.
"The experience I gained from these meetings was that it is not wrong to dream big.
"The experience I gained from these meetings was that it is not wrong to dream big. The one who dares to dream big is the one who reaches them first" says Alexander.
The role as student mentor has meant a lot to Sara. She is always leaving the programme meetings inspired and feels like she can make a difference for the individuals and society as a whole.
“I really hope that more people decide to get involved in Mitt Livs Val and other similar initiatives, because work towards inclusion is so important. Mitt Livs Val is a way for these young people to get the chance to influence their future.”
In dialogue with the adolescents participating, Mollie has discovered that the youths contact with students and an understanding of their experiences and study choice, has been crucial to creating the motivation needed to succeed. Finishing school is the single most important factor for young people's development and future.
"For society as a whole, we are involved and contribute to an important bridge between different actors. Collaboration between universities, high schools and civil society is crucial for creating a more inclusive society and education system altogether."
The School of Business, Economics and Law’s work with Widening access and participation is a task that derives from Sweden’s Higher Education Act. The vision is to be an inclusive, transparent and accessible university for all, regardless of background.