Every so often people will ask us why we run free events. Why put so much effort, time and funding into our events? Why offer free food?! The information we share at our events is truly invaluable. So why not charge parents for these events?!
And my answer is because when I was younger some of the free events that I went to were the events that ended up changing my life. I’m not sure I would have gone to these events if they weren’t free.
I grew up in a single parent household with a mum that worked extremely hard to make sure that my brother and I were relatively comfortable. I never felt that we lacked anything but I definitely wish we’d spent more time together as a family.
One thing I do recall was that I was quite ambitious. I wanted to do well but there was so much self-doubt. I remember being so confused during my A-levels. There wasn’t anyone to talk to about careers or university and even when you did talk about it – the advice wasn’t particularly helpful. I got really overwhelmed the amount of work I had to do and by my second year of A-levels, I had pretty much given up on myself.
A poster changed my life
I remember walking down the hall in my school when I was about 17 and seeing a poster for a residential course for girls interested in Engineering. It was a one-week residential and it was free. I liked the idea of going away for a week and learning about engineering. It was a career that I had considered but didn’t know much about. So I got the details and convinced my mum to book me on the course.
The one week residential literally changed my life. The course didn’t teach me Maths or English or Science. It gave me courage, confidence and self-belief. The course opened me up to the possibility of what my life could be.
I remember coming back from the one-week residential finally realising that maybe it wasn’t too late for me – I could still do this. I didn’t have much time left to the exams and I’d hardly done any revision all year but I worked my socks off and managed to get decent A-levels.
I ended up going to the University of Nottingham to study Civil Engineering. I then did a Masters in Engineering and even got sponsored by an engineering company in my final year. It was a brilliant experience and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
After working as an engineer, I eventually changed careers and did a PGCE in Mathematics Education at the University of Cambridge…but I always wondered what would have happened if I hadn’t noticed that poster on the wall? What would have happened if the poster had said £350? Would I have mentioned it to my mum?
We run our events free of charge and we provide bursaries because we want all young people to be able to have access our events and our year-round programme, regardless of their household income.
Talent exists everywhere – in state schools, independent schools, low income homes and higer income homes. The most important thing to us is that every young person or parent that wants to join the programme or come to one of our events can choose to do so based on their willingness rather than their financial situation.
To find out more about our programmes, visit www.gtscholars.org/our-courses