ROTHERHAM student FRANCESCA EDWARDS is preparing for the experience of a lifetime after gained a place at Bennington College in Vermont, USA. The 17-year-old Year 13 student at Wickersley School recently met US Ambassador to the UK, Matthew Barzun, as she celebrated the news. Here she tells how she landed her spot in the States:
I APPLIED for the Sutton Trust US Programme in January last year after hearing about the programme at Sixth Form.
The programme was born from a collaboration between the Sutton Trust and Fulbright, and aims to give state school students the opportunity to learn more about US higher education and to unlock their potential.
It helps its students to jump over the financial barrier that prevents them otherwise from the opportunity of applying to US institutions.
I made it into the top 150 out of more than 1,200 students across the UK and went on a US summer school to Yale University, where I got to visit wonderful institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Columbia.
My mind was made up after that summer school that I needed to apply to the US — the Liberal Arts education of being able to study in many different areas before majoring in my chosen subjects of International Relations and Political Science was too much of a wonderful opportunity to turn down.
The Sutton Trust US Programme guided me through the application process and standardised testing, along with an educational advisor who gave up her time to volunteer as my mentor on the programme.
The programme was an absolute success with 61 out of the 150 of us heading off to the US in August.
I was admitted to Bennington College in Vermont after applying in January, and received a Brockway Scholarship of $72,000 and a Bennington Grant of over $165,000, totalling just over $237,000 over four years to cover the cost of my Bennington Education.
The 61 students heading to the States have accessed more than $14m of financial aid.
I couldn’t have achieved my place at Bennington without the programme, I owe everything to them.
The staff were there day and night whenever we came to a speed bump in the process and provided guidance and support second to none.
They are absolutely selfless people and will do anything for their students — it’s amazing to know just how many people are in your corner when you’re attempting to achieve something like this.
My family also played a huge role, they were not only a shoulder to cry on when things weren’t going to plan, but they were there to celebrate with me when everything worked out.
I’ve applied to take classes from Power and Culture in the Middle East, all the way to Architecture and Americans in Paris.
I can’t wait to start my life at Bennington, but it was the Sutton Trust US Programme and my family that made it happen.
Without them I know for a fact I wouldn't be facing the amazing future I am right now. With the right support, anything is possible — me and the other 60 Sutton Trust students have realised just that.”