A GROUP of six Coventry students have made it onto undergraduate courses at Cambridge University after being awarded bursaries by the OCR exam board to support them during their studies.
Aron Alagaraj, 18, who attended Bishop Ullathorne Catholic School, will read Chemical Engineering via Natural Sciences at Clare College while Britney Caka, 19, who went to Caludon Castle School, will study Law at Clare College.
Georgina Nicholls, 18, from Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School, will undertake Economics at Queens‘ College and
Fortina Oshasha, 18, who attended Caludon Castle School, will study Engineering at Jesus College.
Making up the group are Riya Parshad, 18, from Sidney Stringer Academy, who will study History at Homerton College and Kogulan Vipulan, 18, who went to the Bablake School and will now study Chemical Engineering (via Natural Sciences) at Homerton College.
Each will receive £3,000 each year of their course to reduce any money worries and to ensure they make the most of their time at university.
They can use the cash to pay for living costs, tuition fees or a combination of both.
OCR – part of Cambridge University – has supported students from the region due to its historical links to the West Midlands Examinations Board.
The students have been chosen for their ‘exceptionally gifted’ and ‘community-minded’ attributes.
Patricia Casey, assistant head at Bishop Ullathorne Catholic School described Aron as a ‘hard-working and dedicated student who rose to the demands of A level studying and proved himself to be a real independent learner.
“It was most keenly shown in the way he showed real resilience and determination in teaching himself A level Further Maths.
“Whilst at home, under the unusual circumstances we found ourselves in, Aron continued with his wider reading and research into areas pertaining to chemical engineering.”
Aron said: “I am so happy that I have received this bursary, it means a lot to me as someone who comes from a less well-off household and won’t be able to receive lots of financial support.
“This will help me so much during my uni life and alleviate some of the pressure while I’m there.”
Sarah Carter, Head of Sixth From at Caludon Castle School, said: “Britney is a very intelligent, determined, positive and strong young woman.
“She took an active role within the sixth form, including participating in a peer mentoring programme with younger students.
“She is a remarkable student, who demonstrated a high level of resilience throughout her schooling and fully deserves all of her success so far.”
Britney added: “I’m excited about the prospects that the OCR bursary will give me.
“It will enable me to make the most of the opportunities at university.
Commenting on Georgina Nicholls, N Duffy, Post 16 Tutor Team Leader at Cardinal Wiseman Catholic School, who has taught her for the past five years, said she had proven to be an outstanding student and role model in the school community.
“Alongside all the hours of study she willingly set aside time to support other students with their studies and was instrumental in ensuring that some students in the sixth-form passed their maths GCSE resits.”
Georgina said: “ I was over the moon to be offered a place at Cambridge and didn’t think I could possibly be any happier – until I found out that I achieved the OCR bursary on top of that.
“The bursary is going to allow me to really make the most of my time at Cambridge, as I can concentrate more on the academic as well as the fun, social side of university, rather than worrying so much about my finances.
“The hard work I’ve put in over the years has really paid off – I’m so grateful to OCR.”
Sarah Carter, Head of Sixth Form at Caludon Castle School, described Fortina as ‘an exceptional young man’.
“He brought a positive energy to all of his lessons and his teachers commented on his humorous personality and his ability to build excellent relationships with both staff and fellow students.
“He took an active role in the sixth form, was a committed member of the football team and he was always willing to support his peers with their learning.” Fortina said: “Winning the scholarship was truly a blessing and certainly a huge surprise.
“It will greatly help me with my academic studies but also extracurricular activities.
“It has greatly reduced many of my concerns when it comes to moving into Cambridge.”
Commenting on Riya Parshad Anna Ford, Vice Principal of Sidney Stringer Academy, said she had always made the most of the opportunities afforded her and had consistently shown her willingness to serve her school and local community.
“She was an academic pastoral mentor to younger students in our Academy as well as a mentor for the National Citizenship Service outside of school. “Throughout her time at Sidney Stringer Academy, Riya represented her house and school in sports such as netball and was also a prefect, the sports captain for her house and organised inter-house competitions.
“Outside of school, Riya demonstrated again and again her commitment to serving her community by volunteering at local food banks and care homes.”
Riya said she felt truly honoured to have been awarded the OCR Bursary.
“It is going to massively help me going forward and it will alleviate a lot of financials worries, which means I can focus more of my time on my studies.
“It is of great value.”
And Andrew Wright, Headmaster at Bablake School, said: “Kogulan is an exceptional candidate for an OCR bursary.
“Throughout his time with us, he threw himself fully into the academic and co-curricular life of the school.
“Recognising the opportunities that he was being given, he performed at an exceptionally high level in everything that he did.
“As School Captain he proved to be one of the best we have ever had.”
Kogulan added: “’Winning the bursary means that I can fully immerse myself in Cambridge life and try a whole host of new activities.
“OCR have also opened up the possibility of an ambitious placement abroad, which I otherwise could not fund on my own.
“I am extremely grateful to be a recipient of this prize and I cannot wait to get started.’
Jill Duffy, OCR’s Chief Executive, sent a special message congratulating each of the students, who start their courses next week.
She said: “Awarding these bursaries is a special pleasure for us at OCR.
“We are always humbled by how much these young people have achieved, often under difficult circumstances.
“They make the most of every opportunity and we hope the bursary will help them to carry on doing that at university.
“This year has been tougher than most for young people, and it makes their achievements even greater.
“One of the students even found time during lockdown to design an extension clip for facemasks for health-care professionals that has gone into production.
“As well as clearly being academic high achievers, many have supported other students in their schools and carried out voluntary work in their local communities.
“There are also gifted sportspeople, including a competitive trampolinist and county hockey player and athlete, musicians and debaters, with one presenting a resolution at the Model United Nations.
“While they are arriving at Cambridge University at an uncertain time, I am sure they will flourish there and continue to get the best out of every opportunity that’s presented to them.
“On behalf of the whole team at OCR, I wish them all the best for their time at university and beyond.”