Ayanfe Adebayo: “My path is only upwards!”
Oliver (Robinson 1999) and Jodie (Robinson 2001) Millican made a generous gift of £50,000 to establish the Windward Bursary for Women in STEMM. The Bursary is means-tested and awarded to female undergraduates studying Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics or Medicine.
The first student to receive the award was Ayanfeoluwa (‘Ayanfe’) Adebayo (Medicine, 2018) and she told us about the difference this extra funding had made:
"This time four years ago, Cambridge wasn’t really an option for me. Although I had wanted to study medicine for a while, Medicine at Cambridge did not become a goal until the start of year 13 after I attended a shadowing day at Oxford and was encouraged by YouTubers like Courtney Daniella and also my mother, that I really considered Cambridge as an option. I come from a state school in which the last student to be accepted into Oxbridge was 10 years ago, coincidently also to study Medicine at Oxford.
Before starting at Cambridge, I had certain apprehensions and worries, both about the difficulty of the course and the culture shock that I would experience, with traditions and practices that I was not accustomed to. My first Formal was the first learning experience I had to encounter when I got here. Nevertheless, I found the first term extremely fun, I made friends quite quickly both inside and outside College and I joined societies such as the African Caribbean Society and Gospel Choir. These enabled me to meet a large range of people in the wider University community. I continued with these societies for the rest of the year and used them to de-stress and as a break from work.
The Windward Bursary has been extremely helpful during the year...I was not able to receive any financial support from my parents throughout the year and I was able to support myself with student finance and the bursary. The bursary helped me with essentials such as food and paying rent.
Academically, I have found my first year to be quite tough. I found the rapid pace of teaching, combined with my initial struggles with essay writing a shock to the system. Honestly, exam term was an especially difficult time in which I started to doubt my own abilities and whether the time I was investing would translate into the desired result during the exam. In retrospect, that year was a massive learning curve and I believe that I have improved in the management of large volumes of work and my overall resilience and persistence.
The Windward Bursary has been extremely helpful during the year. My mother is currently unemployed, and my father is the only source of income for the household. Due to other responsibilities, I was not able to receive any financial support from my parents throughout the year and I was able to support myself with student finance and the bursary.
The bursary helped me with essentials such as food and paying rent. In addition, I was also able to attend the Jesus May Ball, which was an amazing night I was glad to have been able to experience. The support of the Bursary meant that my parents didn’t have to worry as much about my personal upkeep. I also had to be very conscious of my spending. I opted to go to Aldi rather than Sainsbury’s to do a weekly shop and cooked my own meals instead of going to the Garden Restaurant in College. Although this was cheaper, I found that it meant I was missing out on some of the College socialising and throughout the year developed closer friendships with people outside College rather than in.
I have made a pact with myself to first of all: believe in and be confident in my own academic abilities, work as hard as I can to achieve the goal I have placed for myself. Although my first year was a shock in all areas, I’d like to think that the pressure has developed me and from henceforth, my path is only upwards!"
Speaking about their gift, Oliver and Jodie responded:
"We were lucky enough to be supported by our families and government funding when we were at Robinson. However, we are very aware that many young people today are not as fortunate and that this can both be a barrier to university education and can also limit social and academic opportunities once at university.
Lack of funding is only one of the barriers to women studying science, and we were impressed by Robinson’s programme designed to encourage more women to study STEMM. We decided to launch the Windward Bursary in 2018, named to reflect the more difficult journey that women must make in studying STEMM. Since then we have been thrilled to hear about the difference the bursary has made to Ayanfe, and look forward to watching her progress on her chosen path to become a doctor. We know she has the talent and tenacity to succeed, and are glad to have had the opportunity to help her on her way."