A-star motivation

  • 19 January 2022

When Anya Williams (Theology and Religion 2019) received her offer from Gonville & Caius College, she was determined to make the grade.

Applicants will be informed on January 25 if they receive an offer from Caius, and the period pre-offer is one Anya recalled when reflecting on her own experience of applying to the University of Cambridge.

She attended Brynteg Comprehensive School in Bridgend, south Wales, and enjoyed the support of her teachers, especially during A-Levels in Religious Education, Sociology and Psychology, both academically and pastorally.

Anya was enthused by the application process and the interviews, and when her offer arrived it boosted her motivation.

She says: “My school had a diverse intake of students, with a really high number of students on free school meals, but the teachers are so motivated that the lack of resources didn’t matter so much.

“I had amazing teachers all the way through, particularly in Sixth Form. They were the kind of teachers who when you did a past paper they gave it back to you, marked, the next day.

“No teachers at my school had been to Cambridge, but they did a lot of research and helped me with my application and mock interviews.

“When I got in they were absolutely delighted and I thought ‘I really want to get the grades now to show the teachers it was worth the effort’.”

Anya utilised the Seren Network – Seren means star in Welsh and the programme supports high-achievers’ university applications – for which she is now an ambassador. She is also an access ambassador for Caius and the Faculty of Divinity, and is keen to point out that Cambridge and Caius are for all.

She adds: “When I was in first year I did have that impostor syndrome, waiting for an email to say it was a joke that they’d let me in. But after a little while you settle into being into Cambridge and get comfortable with it. You do meet people with similar backgrounds and stories.

“You remind yourself you’ve got the grades and you’re absolutely as deserving as anyone. You’ve got to have a bit of self-belief that you’re here that it’s the right place for you.”

Societies are a good way to meet likeminded people, says Anya, who is in the Cambridge University Welsh Society, Caius’ Allotment Society and Cambridge Student Community Action.

One of the new experiences was studying an ancient language, part of her course which has stuck with her into final year.

She adds: “I was terrified about studying Greek when I came. The only languages I have are GCSE Welsh and English. But I still do Greek now, in third year, because I enjoyed it so much. You can learn a language with good teaching and hard work.”

Throughout her education, Anya has applied hard work and benefitted from good teaching, showing how to thrive at Caius.

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