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Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves

That’s how the song goes and that’s what Valeria and Veronika Mantziou are about to do too, as a result of graduating from the University of Bradford this summer.

Their degrees from Bradford, a place Valeria describes as "diverse, friendly and openminded", have set the sisters up for prestigious postgraduate study. Veronika has been accepted onto a Master’s of Philosophy course at Cambridge, while Valeria is heading to University College, London to study for a Master’s in Law.

The siblings, who are triplets, came from Ioannina, Greece, to study Law (Valeria) and Biomedical Sciences (Veronika). Their brother, Kostas, stayed behind to study medicine at the University of Ioannina.

They were in no doubt that Bradford was the right institution for them to study for their undergraduate degrees. “I definitely wanted to come here and my choice did not let me down” says Veronika. Valeria concurs, “We wanted to do something together and Bradford gave us the opportunity to study for our degrees together in a very good, multi-cultural environment.”

Valeria and Veronika Matziou

Valeria and Veronika

“University is not only about the degree itself, it’s about all the experiences you get in the three years.” Valeria Mantziou, LLB Law 2018

The academic quality of both the School of Law and the School of Chemistry and Biosciences attracted them to Bradford. “The way that law is studied here was something that I really liked” says Valeria, “there are more practical elements within the programme so you can get real-life experience in what you want to do. So, for example, having the opportunity to experience being in a courtroom, sitting next to a judge, was amazing.”

The greater practical activity within the Biomedical Sciences programme was equally appealing for Veronika. “Back home course content is more theoretical, here I was able to work with people in the Institute of Cancer Therapeutics and it was really amazing; it exceeded my expectations. We have gained a lot more practical experience compared to studying for a degree back home.”

It is clear that extra-curricular activities played just as big a part in the sisters’ experience as their degrees did. “University is not only about the degree itself, it’s about all the experiences you get in the three years.” says Veronika, while Valeria thinks that they became more independent and mature as a result of active involvement in a variety of clubs, societies and volunteering activities provided through the University’s Students’ Union. “I believe that these extra activities help you build your personality and confidence. If we went to another university, I don’t know if we would have had as many opportunities.”

Valeria spent her time at Bradford championing women’s rights issues. She served as an Ambassador for the Women Breaking Barriers Network, an organisation which encourages young women to overcome the challenges they will face, build their confidence and provide opportunities to foster personal and professional development. “We need to promote equality”, says Valeria, “the gap between men and women is reaching a balance, but I do not believe we have reached that point yet.”

Not to be outdone, Veronika also got stuck into volunteering. As well as Treasurer of the Hellenic Society, she was involved with the Rowing Club and became a leader for WhizzKidz, a charity working hard to transform the lives of disabled children across the UK.

So what advice do these two go-getting sisters have for other Bradford students?

“Don’t be afraid to chase your dreams, just try to focus and study hard,” says Valeria, who has her heart set on a career in the legal profession. For Veronika, pushing your boundaries is the key: “If you really want to make a change and do something better, improve, then you have to step outside of your comfort zone. Learning different cultures is a whole different experience and improves you as a person, as an individual.”

Valeria and Veronika Walking outside Richmond Blossom
Valeria Mantziou Graduation and Family

The Mantziou family celebrating Graduation Day for Valeria. Left to right: Dad (Apostolos), Veronika, Valeria, Mum (Magda) and brother (Kostas)