By Amalia Mihailescu, on 26 September 2019
Mariatu has been at several outreach events that UCL has organised in collaboration with Generating Genius and is now starting her first year as a Mechanical Engineering student. You can read below about her experience with Access and Widening Participation and see how this has helped her choose and go for what she is really passionate about.
The first time I was introduced to coding was at an outreach event hosted by UCL and organised by Generating Genius. I was 14 years old at that time. l started the session very confused, as I didn’t even know something like this existed, but ended it feeling enlightened and wanting to know more. Five years later, I have learnt how to programme in three new coding languages (CSS, HTML and C++) and am currently teaching myself python.
I am going into my first year of university to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Birmingham. My choice of course and institution was mainly influenced by attending summer schools and outreach events. Being able to speak with current students from top universities about their experience was important and allowed me to make an informed choice, that was right for me.
Widening Participation is essential as it provides students, who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity, with a platform to know more and be more open-minded about what’s available to them (especially if they do not have family members with knowledge about further education). It’s very useful for them to see students that look like them, in top institutions, studying subjects that they want to study. I believe it changes their mindset for the better.
This was the case for me when I went to the Imperial Engineering summer school in year 12. I always wanted to be an engineer but I didn’t believe in my potential. Meeting female students and hearing from them inspired me and boosted my confidence and I am proud to say that has stayed with me until this day.
What I enjoyed about widening participation was not only the free (and very delicious) food, but also making new friends. It’s nice to meet people who have similar interests to you. I am still in contact with most of the people I met through my summer schools. It’s refreshing to see that we are all on the path that we intended to take when we entered the programme and that is proof that your work makes a difference.
This summer I am interning with Generating Genius and my role is Assistant Programme Manager. Essentially, what I do is help plan and organise events. We recently just finalised the plans for the new Uni Genius cohort that we will be taking on for the next two years and applications are now open! I was on the programme throughout year 12 and 13 and it benefited me in ways I cannot even describe. I got the chance to go to different universities with Generating Genius (all expenses paid for), I was offered extra revision classes to help me with my A-levels outside of school and work experience. All in all, these helped me make a final decision regarding the degree I wanted to study.
If you know that you are interested in STEM, you are a hard and resilient worker and want to be mentored by people that have your best interest at heart, then this programme is definitely for you. Applications close on Wednesday 16th of October, so make sure you sign up so you don’t miss this opportunity!