After my degree I want to join the Police and the Laidlaw Scholarship provides invaluable skills which will help me to get there.
Matthew Bantick has very clear goals and values. He has known for years that he wants to join the Police Service when he graduates from York. As soon as he saw the Laidlaw Scholarship being advertised he knew that it would provide additional skills and experience during his time at university and give him that elusive ‘added extra’.
“I was looking for something to improve my CV and develop skills towards my future career and I really see the Scholarship as a stepping stone between the two.”
English undergraduate Matthew was initially slightly nervous about the Leadership side of the Scholarship but he really enjoyed it. He learnt that he was good at one-to-one negotiation and enjoyed practising getting a good outcome on all sides. Not a bad skill to develop in preparation for his future career plans!
He was also impressed with the quality of the staff involved in the programme, from trainers and mentors to employers who came in to share specific areas of expertise. He recalls watching skilled public speakers and thinking ‘yes, that’s how you do it.’
Matthew knew that he wanted his area of research to focus on mental health and specifically on autism and he decided to look at how accurate and useful presentations of autism are in literature. He chose the topic as his brother has autism and he wanted to better understand some of the perceptions that people have about it.
A popular message within the autistic community is that ‘once you’ve met one autistic person, you’ve met one autistic person,’ meaning that everyone with autism is unique. Matthew wanted his research to focus on how this message is portrayed in books which contain autistic characters.
In the literature which Matthew researched, less than a quarter of the characters were adults and 50% of the novels had characters with savant level abilities or superpowers. Whilst some of books Matthew read contained stereotypes, he did find some novels that contained more accurate representations of autism – two of which were written by autistic people.
When asked what the best thing about the Laidlaw Scholarship is, Matthew – like so many others – is adamant that it’s the people:
“The scholars are all researching different things and there is such a diverse range of topics. Not only have I been exposed to a broad range of subjects, I’ve also felt inspired to do more myself from being surrounded by such a passionate and interesting group of people.”
And Matthew certainly has been keeping himself busy. As well as being a scholar, he volunteers for St. John Ambulance, enjoys long distance running and even had an article featured in Your Autism Magazine, following his first period of research.
So what advice would Matthew give to someone considering the Scholarship this year:
“Definitely go for it: it’s a great opportunity to be offered. You get such a wealth of experience and it helps you to develop your skills for now but also in terms of future aspirations. You come out of the Scholarship with skills that other people haven’t got. It provides you with that competitive edge.”