The children of Bradford mum, Tazeem Sawaiz are indeed very proud, as their entrepreneur mum has recently graduated with a law degree. The accomplishment comes ahead of her fiftieth birthday.
Running two businesses, managing a household with three children and a sick father to care for, is not an easy task, now add to that enrolling for a law degree at the age of forty-six you there is certainly something special about this woman.
Now forty-nine, Sawaiz has always wanted to fulfil her lifelong ambition of getting a degree. However, as a young girl, cultural and social barriers prevented her from pursuing her dream.
Even now the journey hasn’t been easy, as Sawaiz was laughed at by many for being too old to do a law degree, but the proud mum pursued and has succeeded.
Speaking exclusively to the Asian Sunday Sawaiz said: “Ever since the age of sixteen I have always wanted to get a degree. During my growing up years, as a second generation British Muslim it was frowned upon for women to go into further education.
“Not only that, I was put off by my careers teacher who told me to go work in a factory and that there were plenty of packing jobs available.”
At the age of twelve Sawaiz was sent to Pakistan and didn’t return to the UK until after she celebrated her fifteenth birthday. She did two terms at school and then got married at the age of twenty- one.
Yet, despite being behind academically Sawaiz defied her careers teacher’s advice and went on to do a part time BTEC national in public administration and enrolled onto a Youth Training Scheme with a law firm. Sawaiz, took on the role of a clerk/typist and started interpreting in courts focusing primarily on family law
“I started interpreting in courts, particularly for family law. I started to go to crown court, making notes and coming back feeding back to solicitors and studied while working as a YTS trainee. I got a distinction in my BTEC national.” Sawaiz told Asian Sunday
A few years later, the mum of three managed to get a job with Bradford Council, where she beat 130 people for the post.
As years progressed Sawaiz moved into other fields, one of which was early years and childcare service. Sawaiz worked there from 2000 to 2003 and went on to pioneer a project on child care for Asian families.
“I was the first person to look for childcare for Asian families” she said with excitement.
Following many successful positions and establishing sustainable projects in 2003 Sawaiz became a magistrate, it’s no surprise then that she chose to do a law degree.
2012, however was the breaking point when Sawaiz had finally decided that despite having lifelong experience and doing CPD along the way, not having a degree deterred her from getting senior jobs, even though she had a wealth of experience.
So, she went back to university in 2013 and did her GCSE English where she successfully achieved a grade A. Not afraid of hard work, she also did her GCSE maths in the evenings, whilst still running her creche business and looking after her family.
Challenges became part and parcel of Sawaiz’ life, as her father had a stroke in 2003 and his health deteriorated further in 2012. The entrepreneur had no choice and became his unofficial carer, whilst also running her creche, studying and looking after her children. Still determined Sawaiz, balanced work, family and student life and eventually took the step of enrolling for her law degree.
“At the time, I didn’t care I just wanted a degree.” She quipped.
“To pay for my living and study my degree I needed to keep up with my finances so I then developed my own brand of spices, which initially I started selling just to family and friends. In between all this I went through depression. I couldn’t decide what I needed to do, I needed to keep myself busy, in case one failed the others would continue spinning for me. To help keep me occupied and pay my debts etc.
“So, I developed the spices and it took off really well and the orders started pouring in. I started in 2014, just before my law degree. I was selling spices at the car boot in Otley. I was shocked at the positive response, as a result of trying it there for three months, I then brought it to the Bradford markets to see what the response would be here. I started with a six-week agreement at the market. Three years on I now have a permanent stall at the market, I also make and sell stuffed parathas and home-made curries. My creche business is also running well and I now have a law degree.
“It was something I had to do, needed to do and I did it.”
Sawaiz, may not have had the opportunities as a young girl to pursue further education, but she ensured her children didn’t miss out. The forty-nine-year-old isn’t the only one with a degree in the household, but her twenty-two-year-old daughter, Maryam became the first girl in their immediate family to get a degree. Maryam qualified as a social worker last year and is pursuing a successful career in the field.
The proud mum advises Asian Sunday readers to never say never and that you are never too old to learn. Sawaiz says she feels liberated and more confident in herself after graduating and now intends to pursue her LPC, employ staff to run the businesses, continuing caring for her family and hopes to qualify as a lawyer.