The charity helping northern state students reach our best universities

Maddi Hoggatt & Leah Booker

July 2020

Part of the 2018 Linacre cohort, Maddi and Leah both attend Durham University. Both part of Josephine Butler College, they bumped into each other during their first week and have been firm friends ever since.

Below they discuss their experience of Linacre and offer advice to future students.

“We were part of Linacre’s 2018 cohort, and are both about to start our 2nd year at Josephine Butler College, Durham University. Leah studies Spanish & Beginners’ Italian, whereas Maddi studied Biology & Psychology in first year, and is now continuing on single honours Psychology.

Since bumping into each other during freshers week we’ve become very close, and it has been so nice having a familiar face from a similar background around college during first year. Whilst it is so amazing to meet different people, knowing someone from the same area as you can be really reassuring; even something as simple as hearing your local accent in a place far away from home can make a world of difference! Together we are part of our college’s boat club, and are also members of next year’s executive committee for Butler film society. We are both also involved with The 93% Club, a university-wide group set up to support state school students here at Durham (and founded by a Linacre alumnus!) Having each other around has been so valuable in helping us both feel confident in putting ourselves out there this year; we have so many plans to make the most of second year together!”

What did you enjoy most about Linacre?

Leah: “The online tutoring - the sessions I had with my tutor gave me a real sense of ownership over my learning, allowing me to dictate what we talked about and therefore explore areas of my chosen subject that I hadn’t had a chance to at A-level. Not only was it enjoyable, but also reassuring, given it reaffirmed that this was the degree I wanted to do. My tutor was extremely friendly and very quickly tailored the tutoring to my needs, so that by the end I saw a real improvement in my language capabilities and confidence. I looked forward to my session each week. “

Maddi: “Definitely the Cambridge summer school - having the chance to experience both university living and teaching was such an amazing opportunity. I was especially grateful for my experience when starting uni as I felt so much more prepared for what was to come! Living together was a great way to get to know the people in our cohort and it was so fascinating hearing about everyone’s interests, aspirations and incredible subject knowledge. I found friends for life during my summer with Linacre, and to this day I am blown away by what we’re all achieving. Experiencing university-style teaching, navigating university accommodation and living with similar academically-inclined people was a great way to capture what life at university would be like, and it confirmed that it was definitely the route I wanted to go down.”

How did Linacre help you at university?

Leah: “Linacre helped me realise that I deserve my place at a top university. I always knew that I wanted to go to university however, as a first-generation student (not just in my immediate family), there was always a small part of me that thought it was far-fetched. In Y13, I decided to do my EPQ on a poem that I had studied during the summer school. I got an A* but more importantly, I proved to myself that I was good at my subject! Linacre has also helped me to meet people at university from similar backgrounds (such as Maddi and those whom I’ve met through The 93% Club), and ultimately feel more comfortable.”

Maddi: “I found that my Linacre experience directly impacted the way I approached the material I was learning at uni; my time with the staff at Linacre opened up my eyes to a completely new way of analysing and digesting the information in front of me, which I have been able to apply to my tutorial sessions and assignments this year. I’ve found that I have been so much more experimental in the ways I approach my work, and also far more successful in formulating my ideas both verbally and in the essays and papers I have written. The feedback from the Linacre staff was so valuable, and I still take it on board today (I even used some of my Linacre notes and feedback in a paper I wrote this year!)”

What advice would you give to our current and prospective students?

Leah: “Take it seriously, take ownership of your learning and go beyond what is given to you. Make connections with the people you meet (professional and personal), ask the questions you’ve always wanted to know the answers to and push yourself to get the most out of this opportunity! The entire programme allowed me to get a real taste of what studying languages at university would look like, and I’m so glad I put in as much effort as I did. Also, keep in touch with your cohort; it’s so lovely to catch up with people and discuss what you’re up to and be proud of one another!”

Maddi: “Be confident in your ability and trust your instincts. There is a reason you are part of this programme and your capability of reaching top universities is not limited by your postcode. Similarly to Leah, coming from a northern state school background I felt completely different to the ‘stereotype’ of students at top universities such as Durham, but meeting the staff and students at Linacre made me realise that I deserved my place as much as anyone else. Be confident in what you have achieved and your potential to achieve even more; the Linacre team are amazing at helping you realise you are worthy of a place at a top university if you are willing to be proactive and get yourself to where you want to be.”

Maddi and Leah both attend Durham University and are about to start their 2nd year