|Aminul Hoque. Photograph: PR|
Aminul Hoque is a lecturer in educational studies at Goldsmiths, University of London - follow it on Twitter @GoldsmithsUoL
Having struggled himself, Aminul Hoque believes in personal support to build confidence in the disadvantaged young.
A combination of happy accidents, luck and hard work has led me into an academic career, along with encouragement from my peers, family and mentors, being determined to prove my A-level sociology tutor wrong and a scholarship to study for a PhD.
Now I'm here, it feels like a calling. I am exactly where I'm supposed to be.
I was born in a mud hut in a small village in northeastern Bangladesh. My father had been living and working in Britain since the early 1960s so we all joined him in 1980.
I grew up in a predominantly Bangladeshi tight-knit neighbourhood in Tower Hamlets and my dominant memories were of extreme poverty, overcrowding, experiencing racism and playing football with my friends.
My father was determined to ensure that all his children succeeded and viewed education as essential. He didn't possess the literacy skills to help us with our homework, however his discipline, morals and hard work ethic were what inspired me and my five siblings.
Eventually I went to the University of Sussex and discovered I had a very analytical mind, with an aptitude for reading and learning.
I love what I do. I love the intellectual stimulation, but also the flexibility of the role and how supportive people are around me.
In particular I love discussing issues that are personal and important to me with colleagues and students: the cultural identity of young people, the sociological discussion of disadvantage, alienation, injustice and discrimination, the importance of class and race in society and the somewhat complex question of what it means to be a British Bangladeshi Muslim.
This beautiful marriage between the personal and the professional enables me to enjoy my work.
It is not just colleagues but also students who push you and give surprisingly honest responses. Students often candidly share their thoughts and opinions about their own cultural experiences of class, race and gender.
For me, the key aim of education must be to enable your students to be open, to critically analyse and develop the confidence to question. Education, for me, has to be a two-way process.
I have three young children under five and as a community activist, father and academic, I often wonder about the future of my children in Britain. How will they manage their conflicting identities of being Bangladeshi, British, Muslim and Londoners?
Like my father, I also feel that education will be key for them to carve out a position in society. It will also enable them to be open minded, intelligent and equip them to fight the discrimination that they will no doubt encounter as Bangladeshi Muslim females.
I recently took my eldest daughter for a campus tour of Goldsmiths. I wanted her to see daddy's working environment and to experience the vibrancy of higher education.
It obviously worked, as she has since said to me she wants to be a lecturer when she is older - though she's only four so still has a few years to wait.
Over the years, alongside academia, I have been able to work for charities and voluntarily on the streets with young people, which has been essential for keeping my work grounded.
Often, this would entails working anti-social hours with some of the most disadvantaged and hard to reach young people across London. Many were involved in gang-related behaviour and the majority had left school without qualifications.
Having struggled myself, I believe that getting more disadvantaged young people into higher education is about building confidence.
Many disengaged young people I've worked with have been among the most intelligent I've ever met, however they're not going anywhere because they don't have support.
Aged between 16 and 18, many young people can so easily become invisible and just dissolve into the system - their family, youth sub-cultures, unemployment, crime. It can be frustrating to be a young person in a technological, globalised world where identities have become fuzzy and complex.
Building up young people's confidence takes time and attention, but it really can work. Just look at my story.
While there are existing schemes run by universities to work with the disengaged, there need to be plenty more. Many disadvantaged groups still hold the attitude that British universities are stuck-up.
It is certainly not true of my university and I'm sure few academics and higher educational professionals would say it of theirs. So we all need to do more on the ground to change that perception and open up opportunities - in education and life.