Victoria took part in one of our UK Summer School programmes in 2016 and it set her on a path to Cambridge. She realised her background shouldn’t hold her back, and now spends much of her time inspiring the next generation.

Victoria is also a current member of our Alumni Leadership Board, a group of key volunteers who work with us at the Trust to share their insights and advice on our work, as well as representing their alumni community. We spoke to Victoria about her programme and journey so far.

Tell us a bit about your background

“I grew up in London and was schooled in London and have a background in public speaking, first starting when I was 12. At age 16, I was invited to speak in front of 2,000 people at the Theatre Royal in London at the 15th Birthday celebrations of one of the UK’s biggest youth charities. This, alongside other opportunities I cultivated for myself during my time at school helped to build my confidence and self belief and by the time I sat my GCSEs I ended up with one of the best results in my year. I performed significantly better than I was predicted by a few of my Teachers and for me this was a turning point and encouraged me to continue working hard in school.

I first got involved with the Sutton Trust in 2016, taking part in their Cambridge University Geography Summer School at Queens’ College. 5 years later, I graduated from Queens’ College, Cambridge with a Bachelor of Arts in Geography. During my 3 years at university I was fortunate to have been the recipient of 5 awards as well as have had life-changing opportunities such as becoming a Bloomberg LP mentee at 18, completing internships at Accenture, the UK Government’s Department for Education and securing a places on insight programmes with McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and the Bain & Company True North Scholarship programme.

What do you remember about your Summer School week?

“The Sutton Trust Summer School was really eye-opening for me, not only because it gave me the ability to experience taster lectures and seminars but also visit the different Cambridge colleges and see which one I’d like to apply too. The programme was also a great opportunity to meet other like-minded and ambitious students from across the UK.

I was the only person from my school cohort to receive an offer to study at Oxbridge and I’m grateful to have applied to the Sutton Trust Summer School as it was a key driver in supporting me with my Cambridge application.

I’m still in contact with a few of the people I met, 6 years later. In the summer of 2021, I worked as a Student Ambassador for the Cambridge Geography Summer School, which for me was a lovely full circle moment.

Did you know what you wanted to do before university?

“I met an alumni of the Summer School programme who took a gap year before studying at university. This inspired me to take a gap year which was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made as it allowed me to intern at 5 very different organisations and travel to California. This helped me with gaining a better understanding of my strengths, interests and passions before starting at university. Alongside my degree, I was involved with a wide variety of access and outreach work. I’ve closely mentored 40 young people with their application to university, almost half of which have successfully applied to Oxbridge.

There’s a great quote from Marian Wright Edelman, the African-American activist and writer, who says: “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Seeing people from a similar background to you, whether that be geographically, culturally, or in any other way, makes you feel much more comfortable and able to achieve more. I believe there’s a lot of power in sharing your story as you never know who you are inspiring along the way. I’ve spoken to hundreds of students in schools across the UK and the response has always been overwhelming. Students send messages to me on social media saying how impactful it is to have a positive role model from a similar background to them.”

What are you up to now?

“I’ve been invited to speak on several podcasts to share my journey and I am a content creator on LinkedIn sharing my advice and insights to help other young people.

When I visit schools and speak at access and outreach events for young people from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds I often say: definitely never let your background stop you. If you let your background stand in your way, you might not be able to achieve the things you really want and are passionate about and instead might settle for less – you deserve more and you can aspire for more!

Always tap into any good support networks available to you, whether that be teachers, friends or family members who believe in you and are advocates for your success.

If, like Victoria, you want to share your story with us – just get in touch with the alumni team via [email protected].

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