The charity helping northern state students reach our best universities

Faith Nagra

July 2020

Part of the 2016 cohort, Faith is now a student at Newnham College, Cambridge reading Economics.

An update from Faith four years after completing the Linacre Reach Higher Programme, including advice for current and prospective students.

“Hi! My name is Faith, and I was part of the 2016 Linacre cohort from Wales High School in Rotherham. I have just finished my second year of Economics at Newnham College Cambridge, after taking a gap year post A-levels. Along with my degree, Cambridge has given me opportunities to develop my extra curricular skills. In the summer of my first year, I spent ten weeks project managing a development project in partnership with a community in rural Kenya, before joining the charity as Cambridge Vice President. The role involved recruiting, interviewing and training new volunteers. I was also elected as treasurer for my college’s JCR, overseeing the accounts, producing budgets and distributing grants. This summer I am doing an internship in Investment Banking at Greenhill & Co, to gain experience in a field I may wish to work in after graduation.

If it wasn’t for Linacre, I would not be where I am today. The key thing I took away from the experience was the confidence to apply to Cambridge. Meeting a group of students from similar backgrounds to me, who didn’t fit the stereotypes of a Cambridge student removed my preconceptions. Without this, I may have made an application to Cambridge, but with the mentality that “it was a long shot” and “it won’t happen”. Meeting experts who assured me that I was a realistic candidate and that going to Cambridge didn’t have to be just a dream changed that mentality. Long after the summer schools have ended we continue to support and encourage each other through the application process and far beyond, building friendships I will have for life.

The chance to practice Oxbridge style interviews and the regular Skype calls with my Linacre tutor encouraged me to read more deeply into my subject and think far beyond the A-level syllabus. This was integral to preparing a good personal statement and being able to impress at interview. Sixth form taught me to pass my exams, while Linacre taught me to think far beyond that.

My advice for prospective students is to think very carefully about the college and university you apply to - it can make a big difference when applying and to your time at university. Other than that, let your enthusiasm and passion for your subject shine through. The people who interview you or read your personal statement are the same people who will be teaching you for three years. Not only do you need to impress them academically, they need to want to teach you and see your passion for the subject. And finally, don’t let a fear that you might not be good enough or you might be rejected let you shy away from making an application. You’ll only regret the risks you didn’t take.”

Faith Nagra: student at Newnham College, Cambridge reading Economics