I feel very fortunate to have received the Santander Bursary and Donald and Beryl O'May Studentship. The extra funding has enabled me to engage fully with my academic and extra-curricular interests over the summer holidays of my first year without having to seek out further employment.
I have really enjoyed being part of the Wolfson community so far; during my first year, I immediately signed up to be on the student committee as the BAME officer to host and organise events for students from minority backgrounds. The highlight of this has been starting the first anti-racism workshops at Wolfson, which I hope will be continued after I leave. I also enjoy being part of the wider Cambridge community; I am currently on the committee for the Cambridge Women in Business Society and regularly take part in university and college sports, such as helping to set up the college’s first netball team last year, as well as being on the university competitive cheerleading team. These activities have really helped with my welfare during the pandemic as I enjoy being a part of a range of communities, especially as my secondary school didn’t offer extracurricular activities.
I started Cambridge as a mature student at 22 because I left a different university after a couple of terms where I found financial pressure and the constant need to find part-time work an extra burden. I was then able to work for two years at the BBC as an apprentice, rotating across several departments in Oxford Circus. My time there ignited my passion and interest in politics, particularly after working on a documentary about class inequality and social mobility.
During the pandemic last summer, the extra funds meant I no longer had to seek out work as I usually do across summer vacations. From a young age, I have worked in retail jobs at the weekend, such as at McDonalds and Waitrose. This summer, I was able to focus on gaps in my knowledge and reading around my academics. Moreover, I also took part in non-paid activities such as volunteering as an access ambassador and supporting the college’s virtual open days. In addition, my summer was spent taking part in a mentorship programme where I received coaching and attended information sessions on commercial law. A combination of these activities helped me build my confidence towards competitive law applications and I was able to secure a graduate job at a Magic Circle law firm early in my second year where I will start in 2024 after law school.
Leanne Gayle (BA History & Politics 2022)
This article is part of our Spring 2021 issue of Ring True on diversity and inclusion at Wolfson.