By Emma Rowley
As a Welsh state school girl, I owe a lot to the Seren Network for helping me to achieve my university place.
For me, Oxbridge was a dream I’d had for a long time, loving the idea of punting, reading books in gardens and being mesmerised in interesting conversations. As a state school girl from South Wales, the dream seemed quite far-off and a little random, given these places were so geographically far away from me and no where like it really existed around me.
Luckily, when I went to sixth form, I was introduced to the Seren Network, an initiative designed to help people like me to both aspire to and achieve places at universities such as Oxford and Cambridge.
I remember being seventeen in a local football stadium’s conference rooms and listening to stories of people like me achieving dreams such as this, allowing me to feel as though it were possible thanks to the Seren Network, inspiring me to fill up notebooks full of plans to reach my dream.
I also attended a free Summer School at Jesus College, Oxford (where I got to watch a talk given by Tilly Rose herself!), where I was given a series of serious academic lectures based around the meaning of life, a flurry of more inspirational stories, an actual tutorial on an essay I’d written and help with my university application. I found myself sitting in the common room and cafeteria talking to amazing and intelligent people and knowing Oxbridge was most definitely right for me. (For others, this experience allowed them to discover they didn’t like the prospect of Oxbridge, which is another important discovery to go on).
Finding myself with an achieved offer to the University of Cambridge, having stood in that football stadium and shared my own story a year later, I felt very aware and grateful to what the Seren Network had helped me, quite a lot, to achieve.