When Julia* came to the UK 4 years ago, aged 19, she found herself having to start all over again. Rebuilding her life and finding a new support network were challenging enough, but she then began to face huge difficulties when beginning a degree in medicine.
Despite receiving a scholarship to study at one of the most prestigious universities in the UK, Julia soon realised she could not afford to travel to her university lectures and medical placements. Luckily, Julia received a grant from Hope for the Young’s Grants and Advocacy Programme, which allowed her to attend her lectures and continue with her degree.
Having to start all over again, build a new network and get into one of the most prestigious universities to study medicine meant there were many hurdles I had to overcome.
Julia had to overcome many challenges when she came to the UK as an asylum seeker and began to rebuild her life in the UK. Then, when she began studying medicine at university, she found herself facing yet another obstacle. As an asylum seeker, Julia wasn’t eligible for the lower ‘home rate’ of tuition fees or student finance.
Despite receiving a scholarship which covered her tuition fees and a small amount of living costs, Julia soon realised she could not afford to travel to and from her university lectures and medical placements. These took place across London, often requiring her to catch multiple trains. If she couldn’t attend these, she wouldn’t pass her first year at university and would be forced to drop out.
I felt that all my efforts were in vain if I didn’t sort out the finances.
After so many years of studying hard to meet her university entry requirements, Julia realised that her dream of completing a degree in medicine and becoming a doctor might no longer be in reach. This realisation was crushing for Julia, since education was not something she could live without:
Education is like food and water for me. It’s something I cannot live without pursuing.
Julia managed as best she could, but the high cost of travel and the fear of not being able to attend her lectures severely affected her ability to focus on her studies. She recalls that she used to dread travelling to the university campus to attend lectures. To combat this, she would try to minimise the number of days she travelled in order to cut down on her expenses.
Luckily, after struggling hugely with her finances throughout her first year at university, Julia found out about Hope for the Young’s education grants. She applied for a grant to cover her travel expenses for her second year of university and was successful.
Receiving the travel grant from Hope for the Young meant that Julia could travel to and from placements freely. As a result, she felt more at ease and could focus her attention on her studies, her wellbeing, and the things that mattered to her.
The support I receive from Hope for the Young empowers me and keeps me going in this degree which can be challenging sometimes.
Julia has also received advocacy support from the Hope for the Young team. She believes that this extra support can make all the difference to young people who are new in the country and facing challenges when entering and continuing their education.
The team is extremely supportive and always there for you. It feels like having a second family who looks out for you.
Regardless of the challenges she has faced in pursuing her dream of studying medicine, Julia has remained incredibly determined, never losing sight of her goals. Once she graduates, Julia aspires to work as a doctor in the NHS.
The team at Hope for the Young are incredibly proud to support such an inspiring and driven young woman. We cannot wait to see Julia become the fantastic doctor we know she will be!
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*The young person’s name has been changed in this story, in order to protect their identity.