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Kel Thandi is from Oadby, Leceister and is currently in his second year of a Natural Sciences degree at Churchill. Kel attended a series of non-selective state schools including Gartree High School and Beauchamp College, and had never considered applying to Cambridge before half way through his Lower Sixth form year – feeling it to be something that was ‘out of reach’.
However, although neither of his parents went to university they were supportive of his interest in trying for a degree course and when his Physics teacher suggested he should consider Cambridge, he finally gained the confidence to apply.
A major consideration for Kel was the issue of how to support himself whilst at Churchill given his parents were not in a position to provide any financial support. Thankfully, he was provided with invaluable financial support in the form of a £3,500 Cambridge Bursary and a £2,000 Winston Memorial Trust Bursary which enabled him to take up his place at Cambridge:
Without either bursary it would have been really difficult to have taken my place at Cambridge as part time jobs are not allowed. It would have put a great deal of financial strain on my parents and would have meant I would have had to look at some other source of funding to try and subsidise the cost of living at Churchill.
Kel has greatly enjoyed his time at Churchill so far. He points to his first Churchill ‘formal’ with the traditional toast to Sir Winston Churchill and the opportunity to sit alongside his Director of Studies as being a particularly memorable highlight of his first year and he greatly appreciates the relaxed and friendly nature of the College and its location outside the city centre. In his coursework, he has particularly enjoyed the broad nature of the NatSci Tripos with its opportunity to study Biology of Cells — a subject area that was new to him – which has extended to the study of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in his second year.
Outside of his studies, Kel has taken the opportunity to build on his enjoyment of debating by joining the Cambridge Model United Nations Society — something he first discovered whilst at his sixth form school. He has also taken up the challenge of learning a martial art by joining the Cambridge University Judo Society — an opportunity he greatly enjoys and plans to continue throughout his time at Cambridge. These opportunities have all been made possible as a result of the financial support he has received through the bursaries:
Bursary support has had a huge impact on my life meaning I can take advantage of joining societies and schemes at Cambridge without having to worry about the financial impact on family and relatives and any additional one-off costs such as a bike no longer put financial stress on my parents.
There are still several years to go until he completes his UG degree at Cambridge but looking beyond the next four years, Kel hopes to go on to study for a PhD with a longer term aspiration to undertake scientific research.
I want to push our knowledge of science further and hopefully, one day help publish a scientific paper and contribute to current knowledge of science.