Why did you apply for the programme?

I am originally from Lithuania but I came here when I was 8 years old. My passion for science only began to grow during GCSE’s as I learnt more and more about what STEM involves. I applied to the programme to learn what it was like studying biology at university and to figure out if university was even the best option for me or if I should consider an apprenticeship instead.

Did you have any worries before attending?

At first, I was quite worried about the academic course and its rigour. I was concerned that I would not be able to handle it compared to other students. However, when I got there, I realised that everyone else was just like me, in the same boat. Universities are not just for geniuses but for normal people with normal expectations. I was on the genetics course which truly confirmed my wish to study in the area.

What were your highlights of the programme?

The highlight of the summer school was the opportunity to explore new topics in genetics like CRISPR-Cas9. We also found out the amazing qualities of the ‘Drosophila’ (fruit fly) and why it is so commonly used in genetic experimentation. My favourite part of the course was doing a research project on a female scientist in a group and then presenting it to the whole group because I learnt so much! Another highlight of my week was the people and the friends that I made. I met some truly amazing people and everyone was so nice; it felt like I had known them for years. I gained more experience and knowledge in genetics and biology which has boosted my confidence in my ability. I also learnt a lot of skills like teamwork and confidence through having to present within our genetics group and the whole summer school cohort at the end of the week.

What would you say to someone who is unsure about applying?

If I could give one piece of advice it would be: Don’t be afraid to experience something new because the experience that I got is incomparable to anything you will do in your life. It doesn’t matter whether you are an introvert or extrovert because there is something for everyone and the knowledge and experience you will gain will be SO valuable. I am so grateful that I applied!