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It was a talk given by a Churchill Outreach Officer that first inspired third-year undergraduate Sam Smith (U17) to set his sights on applying to Cambridge and Churchill, to study Natural Sciences.
Sam, who attended Monmouth Comprehensive, a non-selective state school in South Wales without a history of Oxbridge admissions, has since returned to his school to talk about his experience in the hope that he can help encourage and inspire other talented students to consider applying.
As a result of his family’s financial circumstances, Sam receives a full Cambridge Bursary of £3,500 in addition to a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Bursary of £2,000.
Sam first discovered Earth Sciences at Cambridge, and is clear about the vital role bursary support has played in nurturing his passion for the subject he now regards as the centre of his life. From helping to fund field trips, including a trip to Cumbria and geological mapping training in Skye, Sam was also able to carry out a four-week mapping project in Australia over the long summer vacation – something that would never have been possible without financial support. He also plans to undertake an internship with a geothermal energy survey in Iceland this summer – another opportunity that would otherwise have been closed to him.
Being able to explore different career options in my chosen field through work experience and internships would have been close to impossible without the bursary support I receive as these opportunities are almost always unpaid.
Sam really enjoys the friendly, unpretentious and down to earth atmosphere at Churchill and also appreciates the on-site facilities, particularly the ‘"large, open green spaces to wonder about in when studies become too much." Having come from a school where maybe just 3 or 4 people shared similar interests, the highlight of his time here has been meeting so many like-minded people, along with the opportunity to discover new hobbies such as rowing, "something which I have never done before and now I am hooked!"
Beyond academia, Sam’s main interest at Churchill has been rowing. He is particularly proud to have captained the men’s third boat in the Lent and Easter terms last year, culminating in winning blades in the May Bumps – the first successful bumps campaign for Churchill College Boat Club since 2016. Looking beyond his current studies Sam aims to develop a career in the field of geothermal energy.