Mohammed was granted an Access to Bristol bursary in 2008. Each year, your donations enable others like him to experience for themselves the opportunities that Bristol, and universities in general, have to offer.
Mohammed Omar (Medicine 2008-) was granted an Access to Bristol bursary in 2008.
What: Short courses with Bristol academics.
Who: 255 high-achieving students from low-performing local schools attended this year.
Donor support: £50,000 to run 15 subject streams.
What: Students who complete the scheme and gain a place at Bristol are eligible for a bursary.
Who: 11 students assisted in 2009/10
Donor support: £3,225 per bursary last year.
I moved to the UK at 13 to live with my auntie, leaving my family behind in Somalia. I went to one of the worst schools in London, where most people didn’t want to learn. In my first two years, I messed around and got into trouble, but in year nine I got my final warning: do it again, and you’ll be kicked out. That was my wake-up call; where else would take me if I was expelled?
I took my SATS and - to the surprise of my teachers - did really well. When the teachers saw I had potential, they helped me more. I started to work hard and got the best GCSEs in my school.
I overheard some of the smart kids at school talking about applying to Woodhouse College. It’s one of the best sixth-form colleges in London and really hard to get into. I didn’t think I was the type of person they’d want, but I applied anyway and was accepted. It was such a different environment. Most of the other students came from good schools and knew exactly what they wanted to do. I was a bit lost. I hadn’t seen my family for seven years and I missed their support.
I left sixth-form and went to Somalia for two months. The boost from my family was just what I needed. I also saw how hard life was for people in Somalia, and that made me realise how lucky I was. I’d always wanted to be a doctor, so I did some voluntary work in a local hospital - an experience that made me even more determined to return to England to continue my studies and do medicine.
Back in England, we moved to Bristol where I studied for my A-levels at Filton College. When I told the Head of Maths I wanted to study medicine, she recommended the Access to Bristol scheme.
By spending an afternoon a week with Bristol academics, the scheme gave me a great insight into the University. The labs were incredible, the lecturers amazing, the students friendly and down-to-earth. I knew I didn’t want to study anywhere else.
I applied to study medicine. I put other universities down on my UCAS form, but it was Bristol I wanted. They were interested in the voluntary work I’d done, both at the Bristol Royal Infirmary and in Somalia. I was so happy to be accepted. I’m the first in my family to go to university. My dad’s incredibly bright, but he never had the chance I’ve had.
Receiving the Access to Bristol bursary has made a huge difference to me as I don’t have to worry as much about money and can focus on studying.
It’s been an amazing two years so far; hard work, but the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
As a college student, the Access to Bristol scheme showed me that Bristol would be the perfect place and gave me a real goal to push me in my final year of work. And the bursary allowed me to fulfil my dream of studying here.