The first meet-up of the 2022 cohort with special guest Felicity Buchan MP

We were delighted to invite scholars from the 2022 cohort to our first community get-together in our offices in London. This is the first of the calendar year and we look forward to hosting more events including VIP guests, extension lectures, and connecting alumni with the new cohort. These will take place around the country to ensure that students from across our community can benefit!

Felicity Buchan MP for Kensington joined us as our special guest, who spoke of her own education and the impact of the programme- in particular pleased to celebrate our partnerships with our partner schools supporting students in Kensington: Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School, Kensington Aldridge Academy and Ark Burlington Danes. This particular work has been made possible by the Kensington and Chelsea Foundation and the London Community Fund.

To tell us more about the event we welcome guest blogger, Aksa (second from the right in the photo below) from the 2022 cohort and currently at Isaac Newton Academy.

On the 21st April, the Next Step Foundation celebrated our first community get-together. It was a fantastic opportunity for us in the 2022 cohort to informally meet with tutors and the NSF team and share our career aspirations, as well as creating an opportunity for scholars to network by making invaluable connections with other aspiring university students of excellent academic potential.

Firstly, we were assigned a challenge of finding others interested in studying a subject we were given as part of a list, and find out what reading they had done around their subject. For example, someone who wanted to study Medicine at Cambridge University, had read Adam Kay’s ‘This is going to hurt’ which demonstrated the realities of being a junior doctor. Hoping to study medicine myself, it allowed me to visualise the struggles like working long nightshifts, yet being in a position to help people suffering and having a strong sense of reward.

My experience was phenomenal. Hearing Felicity Buchan's talk on pursuing your passions and following your dreams reminded me of the purpose of education and brings back the love of learning into our journeys. It was great interacting with the other participants of the programme and getting to network with people face to face.

- Baaba, NSF 2022 Scholar, LAE Tottenham

On the flip side, I also met two aspiring lawyers who wanted to study at UCL and LSE who had shadowed lawyers to see what working in the social justice system looked like. We got chatting to the the NSF team too and I finally completed my list to find that one had studied classics at Edinburgh and she shared with us how she had such an enjoyment for languages, and believed strongly in their importance.

We were delighted to welcome MP for Kensington, Felicity Buchan, who shared her own educational experiences and gave us some insight into her career. The scholars were empowered when she mentioned the importance of resilience and ‘being yourself’ (not being afraid to be a bit different!), given that she had been accepted into the University of Oxford despite having gone to a school where no students had been to Oxford or Cambridge in over 15-20 years!

We were also able to gain a strong insight into the field of politics and leadership during a Q and A session. Here, I was able to ask thought provoking questions to learn more about the pressures that stem from having such important careers and in Felicity’s case, its ability to cause such impact to people across the country.

This was especially a privilege, because her journey to success was reflective of how the Next Step Foundation works to oppose the concept of education favouring a certain demographic- as a lot of us on the university preparation programme felt we could identify with being in a similar situation of not having all the best facilities available when hoping to make competitive university applications. The programme really supports us in bridging that gap!

Despite it being the first time that the NSF community had got-together in person, we all agreed that the experience was highly useful and meaningful, which made this first event a huge success!