Last year, and in partnership with In2ScienceUK, we launched the SEC Scholars initiative; a 5-year programme that will provide at least 50 young people with guidance, mentorship, and practical skills to support their journey towards a career in STEM. Last summer we supported 11 students through the programme – here are the stories of two of our recent graduates.
Barriers faced when pursuing a career in STEM contribute to the fact that less than 10% of all life science professionals in the UK come from working-class backgrounds. They pose a threat to upward mobility within the sector, contribute toward under-representation, and negatively impact diversity and the talent pipeline the country has to offer.
For more than 10 years In2ScienceUK have been working to provide young people from low-income and other disadvantaged backgrounds with the resources needed to tackle such barriers, starting with assistance in preparing for and entering university. Last year we launched a long-term partnership to support in their mission to open STEM opportunities up to everyone.
Aspiring research scientist, Sejal
Sejal applied for the programme to expand her knowledge of chemistry and explore the potential roles that would be available to her when embarking on a career in STEM. As part of the programme, Sejal worked with a mentor from within the industry and had the opportunity to conduct research, present her work and pose questions about careers in the field directly to a research scientist.
“The programme helped me develop transferable skills that will benefit me in the future but has also confirmed my aspiration in pursuing a STEM-related career. Attending the research lectures and completing the set tasks enabled me to develop critical and analytical thinking skills as well as improve my communication skills through the discussion boards and social hubs. The programme has helped enhance my confidence in learning a STEM subject.”
Currently in year 13, upon completing her A-levels Sejal is looking to enter university and pursue a Master of Chemistry degree with the aspiration of entering a career as a research scientist.
Biomedical science enthusiast, Mohamed
Mohamed was hoping to pursue a degree in biomedical science, and attended a placement day in a biomedical research institute as part of the programme last summer alongside his mentor, a scientist working in the field. Mohamed also attended research courses and workshops to give him a well-rounded picture of what a career in biomedical science could offer.
“For me, the best part of the whole experience was the placement day I attended at the Francis Crick Institute. I got to actually meet real scientists and people that have degrees in the things I want to get into. The day itself was split into two parts; first I met with lots of people that worked at the Institute who told us about their journey to how they became what they are. After that, I got to take part in lots of hands-on activities with some of the scientists.”
Originally apprehensive about constructing his university application, the programme offered Mohamed support in putting together a strong personal statement and improving his writing skills. Mohamed’s appetite to pursue biomedical science was strengthened as a result of attending the programme, and he credits his mentor, a scientist, on providing a positive perception of what it means to be a professional in the field and work in a real-life laboratory setting.