“The best thing about my life right now is my independence,” says Sherifat. “I’ve never had my own room before and having my own space has been really empowering.” Her Eastwood accommodation is decorated with letters and photos from home. Raised by her mum in East London, Sherifat helped to care for her two autistic brothers. “Through the Gold Scholarship funding, I can go home monthly,” she says. “My mum knows I’m there whenever she needs me – it’s impacting not only on me but my whole family.”
Sherifat was one of our first Gold Scholars, and like her, they have all overcome challenges to get to where they are today. Background or circumstance should never be an obstacle to talent. That’s why we launched the Gold Scholarship Programme, providing opportunities for 50 students to succeed, year after year. It’s your support that makes this possible. The security of a £5,000 bursary helps students with living costs and means they can devote more time to studying rather than finding part-time work.
As Alex puts it: “It’s a big weight off my shoulders. After my parents divorced, work was tough to find, so I grew up in quite a challenging environment. My mum and I were homeless – staying in friends’ houses or hostels – a fair few times.
"Before uni, I was really worried about paying for accommodation and food, so having the Gold Scholarship is an incredible help. Thank you.”
Gifting a sense of belief and achievement
But the programme provides more than financial assistance. Team activities and training sessions on everything from networking to communication help develop soft skills that will translate to any career. The Gold Scholars put into practice what they have learned when meeting their Gold Mentors – alumni and friends who give their time to advise the students on university life and the world of work.
“The idea of speaking to people I didn’t know was scary,” Rebekah recalls, “but the training made it seem less overwhelming. Networking is something I expect to do again in future, and I’m so thankful to have experienced this already with the support and guidance of the scholarship team.” These opportunities for personal development are vital. Research shows that graduates from disadvantaged backgrounds go on to earn less than peers from high-income families, even when studying the same course, in the same place.
Gold Scholarships gift a sense of belief and achievement. Part of this comes through each Scholar’s commitment to complete 50 hours of volunteering, fundraising and outreach each year. They’ve helped the homeless in Bath, got involved in conservation projects in Sri Lanka, taught disabled children in India, spent time in hospices and care homes and more. Often, it pushes students out of their comfort zone, like Rachel who admits that her shyness has been a barrier to speaking up in the past. Now she’s a student ambassador, giving a voice to her peers.
“I never would have put myself forward for that role had it not been for the Gold Scholarship,” says Rachel. “It’s really helped give me confidence.”
Thanks to your continued support, the programme is now in its second year and we have welcomed another 50 bright young men and women to Bath. Sherifat speaks for them all when she says: “I’d like to thank everyone who has given me this opportunity to attend an amazing university and not have to bear such heavy burdens.”