Sanmeet Kaur recently met with siblings Ketsia (aged 17), Don (aged 16) and Keren (aged 14) at IntoUniversity’s Nottingham West centre, run in partnership with the University of Nottingham, which celebrated its five-year anniversary this year. Together, the siblings have benefited from both academic and pastoral support at IntoUniversity.
Ketsia, Don and Keren all have very distinct interests and personalities but their similarities lie in their ambition and drive, for themselves and for each other. Ketsia has just completed the first year of her A-levels and has high hopes to study Medicine at university.
During Academic Support this year Ketsia has been focusing on revision, ‘IntoUniversity has helped me increase my confidence and pass my GCSEs. IntoUniversity has also paired me with my mentor, Amelia, who has been helping me with my personal statement and CV. Amelia makes Biology fun to revise and has opened my eyes to different ways of revising.’ Over the summer, Ketsia has been working hard to prepare for the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT). The support of her mentor has been invaluable: ‘My mentor brought in her friend who does Medicine and he spoke to me about the UKCAT and how to prepare for it. He told me all about what he has learnt from it, and what I should and should not do. I think it’s made me more aware about what I need to do — before I had a vague idea but now I really know what I’ve got to do in order to get where I want.’
Don has aspirations to become a lawyer, jokingly citing American legal drama, Suits, as one of his inspirations. One of Don’s favourite subjects at school is History: ‘I like finding out about the past and all the different things that happened. It’s interesting to find out how people lived. I also enjoy debating because I enjoy getting my points across and the fact that you have your freedom of speech.’
Through IntoUniversity, Don has been successful in securing a place at the prestigious Durham School for Years 12 and 13. The Nottingham West centre staff have played a key role in supporting and encouraging Don. ‘The best thing about IntoUniversity is the staff’ says Don. ‘They are here for you in every aspect and will always try to help you with anything. I didn’t know about boarding school until they told me — I went home and asked my mum. We both realised it was a really good opportunity so I applied through the Springboard Bursary Foundation.’
Through IntoUniversity, we have become more supportive and closer as a family — we want each other to do well!
Receiving his acceptance letter came as a surprise to Don as he says, ‘At first I really didn’t believe it because my mum looked super serious, so I thought I didn’t get in!’ Don has been working closely with Katherine Walker, IntoUniversity’s Boarding Schools Bursary Manager, in preparation for the transition to boarding school.
Despite his initial nerves about ‘starting over again’, Don is optimistic about what the future holds for him. ‘IntoUniversity has helped prepare me for being away from my family for such a long time and how to cope with being more independent.’ When asked if she will miss Don, Ketsia replies, ‘Yes, but he’s going to a good school. When we get offered opportunities like this, we want each other to do well.’
Keren, the youngest of the siblings, also has big plans for the future. ‘My favourite subjects are English and Textiles because you get to be creative. For example, in English you can write stories and let your imagination flow. In the future I hope to work in the fashion industry or journalism.’ Keren has recently been offered the opportunity to follow in Don’s footsteps and apply for a bursary to attend a boarding school when she reaches sixth form.
When asked what their best memory of IntoUniversity has been so far, all three siblings gave the same response — the Extending Horizons trip. For Ketsia, the best thing about the programme was ‘going to see what a university is really like. Some of the courses were really interesting and there were specific tasters you could get involved in.’ Meeting students from other IntoUniversity centres was also a highlight. ‘We met students from Leeds and it was really good to interact with other people’ says Don, with Keren adding, ‘Everyone just got along and had a good time. We felt like we’d known each other a long time even though it was only three days.’
As IntoUniversity turns 15 this year, this was the perfect opportunity to ask the siblings about their experiences at age 15. ‘When I turned 15, all I could think about was being the same age as Ketsia! We’re basically twins’ says Don. With just a nine-month age difference between them, Ketsia and Don are a close-knit pair. Keren turns 15 this year and is looking forward to ‘having the freedom to go to more places!’ As Ketsia prepares her applications to study Medicine at university, Don makes the transition to Durham School and Keren begins her GCSEs, all three siblings are in the midst of making important decisions about their educational journeys.
The IntoUniversity Nottingham West centre staff are also excited to see what the future holds for these incredibly ambitious students. Sophie Houghton, Centre Leader recently said, ‘They have high aspirations and are now more certain about how to achieve them. They seize all opportunities and get involved in everything they can. We are really excited to see Ketsia, Don and Keren fulfil their potential and be the bright stars we know they will be.’