Overcoming barriers

In conversation with Aleksander Napieralski (BSc (Hons) Finance, 2020)

Despite the challenges of living with Dyslexia and ADHD, Aleksander Napieralski (BSc (Hons) Finance, 2020) continues to show a huge commitment to working hard! Not only did he graduate from his undergraduate degree with the Business School (formerly Cass) earlier on this year, he is already studying the MSc Computer Games Technology course at City, not allowing anyone or anything to stand in the way of his goals. 

Find out more about Aleksander’s experiences and why you should “never, ever give up, and always believe in your greatness”….

Can you tell me about why you chose to study at the Business School and your experience there?

I was not the one with good grades, due to my undiagnosed Dyslexia and ADHD. I was not expecting to get into University, even until the very last day before starting the course.

I worked hard in college and gave myself the opportunity of going to university by picking the Business School as my primary choice on UCAS. I do not regret this. Although, if I had failed to achieve the required grades, I would not have been able to get into the University that year.

I still remember that when I did not receive my grade for English that my application could potentially be discarded, despite getting the required grades for the course. Thankfully, on the last two days before the deadline we managed to work on an accredited certificate for me to pass my GCSE and join the Business School.

Studying at City, truly brought me an amazing experience. It is difficult to explain. It requires a lot of work, self-discipline and most importantly, determination. If one does not have such, they will surely fail. We had many who did not complete their degree or dropped out every year because they were not up to the task. Although, we also had many who would do everything in their power to complete it and with those, I received our degree.

I was a student representative for three consecutive years at the Business School and tried my best to help the University to be a better version of itself. Using feedback of students and my ability to acknowledge professors’ points of view, helped me to find a middle-ground and apply many changes over the years.

Additionally, I used my learning experience to help the younger generation get better at Maths and English skills, in order to support them with their tests and GCSE exams. I did this because I remembered how I struggled and believed it was not possible. Although, the only thing I needed was someone to just explain it to me in a different way.

What have you been up to since graduating?

After I graduated, I changed my major to a different one. I am currently studying MSc Computer Games Technology at City, University of London. I was advised not to do MSc in Finance, as most of the subjects in the MSc, I had already completed during my Bachelor. It would be much more efficient if I was to do an MSc in a different course and then go back to Finance in the future if I wish to do so.

That said, I have chosen a bit of a scary path as it is a completely different course and not something I have studied previously. I had to put a lot of effort in during summer to complete two coding courses (C++ and Java), in order to prepare myself for the course.

That’s great to hear you are still studying with us at City. What encouraged you to take on the MSc Computer Games Technology?

I was looking at a variety of Master choices but the only thing I knew, was that I wanted to stay at City, due to the many people I had met and knew there. This includes students, teachers and also administrative staff.

Someone mentioned to me during that time, “maybe you should do Computer Games Technology degree? After all you are passionate about games and love programming and creating games in your own time.” I had to admit it was a very interesting idea. Although, I knew it would be challenging because I had no actual background in coding or educational experience in creating games. The University confirmed it would be hard work but that I could do it and, thankfully, I got accepted.

What have been the most rewarding experiences of studying?

The most rewarding experience for me is being able to study two degrees at the institution, despite not having studied such modules before. My passion and hard work is what took me there. I have received a great amount of support from the University and my college, that has helped me to become more than prepared for these degrees.

Throughout the years, I have also grown substantively. I barely remember who I was before I went back to education. I was working random jobs with small salaries and no grades to find any career that I wanted to settle with. I never believed I could reach where I did at that time. However, because I put so much effort in and I believed I could do it, I have found it all very rewarding.

This was one of those decisions where one puts everything one has on one card and understands that failure would leave one with nothing. Although, if one manages to pull it off, one only gathers rewards for the sacrifices made.

What have been the biggest challenges with studying?

My ADHD and Dyslexia have always made it difficult for me to pass my exams or finish my work with specific deadlines. I was always bad at doing exams, although my coursework grades were usually high. So, passing my degree with the grade I wanted was fairly difficult.

Being able to adapt to the workload and lifestyle that university (especially the Business School) requires was difficult. In addition, the extra activities I was doing, such as tutoring, made it more challenging.

Lastly, I believe that my biggest challenge was fear that I could not do it. That I was not capable of accomplishing it. That in some way I was fooling myself. It took me a long time to overcome this issue but since then, I have grown significantly and become a much better person in everyone’s eyes. I tried to inspire others with my story back in the day, which I believe was a great success. Many people go through this kind of fear, so observing someone who overcame it and pushed no matter what, can help them to overcome their own challenges.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to follow in your footsteps?

The only advice I could give is believe in yourself, no matter what. I came from a background where I believed that our future is determined by the hand we are dealt . What I did not know back then is that it is possible to put your cards back into the deck, shuffle and try again if one chooses to do so.

It can be very scary, which is the most challenging part of it all. Making life decisions is always scary, so is choosing a different path but we have to have the guts to give it a go sometimes.

Never, ever give up, and always believe in your greatness. We choose who we are and what we will accomplish. I have personally overcome many mistakes and always put effort in to grow from them, no matter what.

I am a music creator, in a band, a singer. I have a degree in finance, I am creating my games and still planning on running my own business in the future. There is nothing that stops us from doing whatever we want in life.

My ADHD and dyslexia makes my life hard, especially with achieving the grades I want. However, it is not just about grades but the fact that you’ve tried to achieve something you’re passionate about. Always seek self-growth no matter what. Take risks: ‘it is better to aim high and miss, than aim low and hit’. Only then you will truly know yourself.

Thanks to Aleksander for sharing his inspirational studying journey. We wish him the best of luck with the MSc!