Geoff Edwards used to sell The Big Issue magazines in Cambridge for a living. At one point in his life, the 52-year-old man was even homeless and fighting depression.
“I can’t say it’s what I always dreamed of because I didn’t really ever think of the university,” Edwards said, adding that to finally get behind Cambridge’s door is a “privilege” and “a dream”.
Winning a place is “the first thing I am proud of in my life”, Edwards was quoted as saying by the BBC.
— The Big Issue (@BigIssue) November 9, 2017
Edwards had left Birkenhead Institute in Wirrald, decades ago with just two O-Levels in mathematics and English language and even a U, or “unclassified”, in English literature. Pursuing his education just wasn’t the thing to do back then, according to Edwards.
“I didn’t know anybody who stayed on or went on to university. People didn’t back then.”
He left Liverpool for Cambridge, hoping to find farm work but spent years homeless instead, feeling “isolated and getting anxious”.
But with some help from charities serving the homeless, Edwards managed to become a Big Issue magazine seller in the city. Something was still something, and Edwards decided it’s time to go back and pursue his education.
So three years ago, he started a gateway course at Cambridge Regional College. Later he took on an Access to Higher Education course and scored top marks in each subject. At his tutor’s recommendation, he applied to Cambridge and got accepted to Hughes Hall.
The Guardian notes that one thing was constant throughout Edwards’ rough and tumble life: He always had a book with him – reading was a lifelong passion. At times of difficulty, the books were his way of “escaping”.
Edwards is now a student at Cambridge’s Hughes Hall, which only accepts mature undergraduates or graduate students.
While he finds his classes thus far have been pretty “intense”, this is still a great bit of news considering the recent reports on Cambridge’s lack of diversity in its admissions.