A Coleg y Cymoedd learner, who is determined to pursue a career in drug development to help battle conditions like cancer, has secured her place at the University of Oxford after achieving three A*s in her A levels.
Carys Lewis, 18, from Pontypridd, is set to study Chemistry at Oxford’s Exeter college this September after achieving the top grades in chemistry, maths, and physics.
Having seen others in her life fighting cancer, Carys decided she wanted to play a role in finding cures and treatments for diseases like it. Her hope is that the degree at the world-renowned university will open options for her to go into a high-profile career in medical research.
Having grown up in a scientific household, with both of her parents working within the medical sector, Carys always knew she wanted to do something involving the sciences.
She said: “I really enjoyed and learnt so much during my chemistry lessons at college, which fuelled my passion for the subject and made me feel ready to take on a degree at university. However, I was unsure what route I wanted to take for my career.
“Seeing someone I know battle cancer made me determined to play a role in helping people get better and was the inspiration behind me thinking about a career in drug research and development.”
While Carys had dreamed of going to Oxford for some time, she admits she had originally lacked the confidence to apply, despite getting an outstanding 10A*s and 1A in her GCSEs. It was her tutors’ encouragement, as well as being part of the Welsh Government’s Seren programme – which supports high achieving learners, regardless of their background, to go on to top universities in Wales, the UK and around the world – that gave her the self-belief to put in an application.
Through Coleg y Cymoedd’s partnership with Seren, Carys attended numerous talks led by Oxbridge tutors which were designed to prepare learners for applications to Oxford and Cambridge. She also took part in mock interviews with an Oxford representative, helping her feel more confident when it came to her real interview.
Carys said: “I was so excited when I opened my results and saw that I was going to Oxford! Although I’ve always been academic and enjoyed learning, I never seriously considered Oxford until my tutors at college showed me it was a real possibility. They helped me see that anything is possible if you put your mind to it, try hard and have the right support systems, which thankfully I did with the college and the Seren programme.
“I felt far more confident going into my Oxford interview after taking part in the practice sessions with Oxford reps, which is all thanks to Seren. The programme also helped me see that there is no longer a stereotype for an Oxford learner – Oxford is bridging the gap to ensure more learners from all backgrounds, such a myself – a young woman from the South Wales valleys – come to the university.”
For other Oxford hopefuls thinking about applying in the future, Carys added: “For any other learners thinking about applying to Oxbridge, my advice is: don’t let doubts stop you. It’s always worth a shot. The worst that can happen is you don’t get in and you go another great university. Even going through the application process in itself is a great learning experience. The same goes for anyone thinking about another uni, course, job, or apprenticeship. Don’t let self-doubt make you miss out on the chance to fulfil your dreams.”
Rhondda Cynon Taff
Heol y Coleg
Rhondda Cynon Taff