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Oleg Jezerskis

Oleg Jezerskis had just £150 in his pocket when he left his home and family behind in Latvia for a new life in Dundee.

He was 22 and spoke very little English, yet he was determined to build a brighter future for himself.

Now, more than five years later, he is graduating with a degree in Biomedical Science from Abertay.

But his success would not have been possible without the year-long AHEAD programme – a part-time evening access course.

AHEAD helps those who have been out of education for three years or more or who don’t have the necessary qualifications, to access a higher education at Abertay.

Successful completion of the programme guarantees a place on a range of Abertay degrees.

Oleg, 28, said: “I finished school and worked for a couple of years in Latvia as a sales manager but I felt that I wanted to do something else. One of my friends was living in Scotland. I visited and decided to stay.

“My family were very split about my decision. My mother was worried about me and kept saying ‘just stay’. My father, though, had no doubts and encouraged me to go.

“I arrived in Dundee in 2010 and joined an agency doing labouring work. But I wanted to do something more, I wanted an opportunity to come to university and the AHEAD programme gave me that.

"It gave me the skills to understand what university life would be like. My English improved so much as well. I was happy to take the chance to enter university gradually after being out of education for five or six years.

“I could not have dreamed of this back home and I’m so grateful for the opportunity.”