Scholarship stories


Caitlin's story

For Caitlin, making it to university seemed unthinkable. From the age of 15 she’s had to work while attending school and college. Securing a place at Sheffield was a dream come true, but coping financially was not going to be easy.

Sheffield student, Caitlin, smiling at the camera.

Caitlin grew up in Liverpool and was raised by her single teen mum, due to her dad being in prison for most of her childhood. 

During her GCSEs and A-Levels, Caitlin lived in a hostel for young people due to escalating circumstances at home. She had to work a part-time job as well as attend school. It was a real struggle balancing school and work life. She managed to pass her GCSEs and joined a sixth form to start her A-Level journey. 

Despite continuing to balance college and work, and living independently with little family support, she exceeded everyone’s expectations. She received the highest A-Level grades at her college. 

“It seems incredible to me that I was then offered a place at the University of Sheffield. I never imagined I could have passed my GCSEs, never mind being accepted to study at a prestigious university like Sheffield. 

I was so excited to delve further into my true academic passions of diplomatic work and study the broader global context of politics. My special interest is the Middle Eastern region.”

The one thing I was very worried about was whether I would cope financially with going to university. I felt exhausted, constantly having to balance my plans for the future with getting by day-to-day."

Caitlin Hardy

BA Politics and International Relations

“The fact I was awarded a scholarship was unbelievable to me as I finally had the freedom to live like a ‘normal’ student. The first thing I did was put my scholarship money towards a new laptop with Microsoft Word installed. As you can imagine, almost all my work is accessed online these days so the upgrade was certainly needed, but not something I would’ve been able to afford myself.

The scholarship has allowed me to have more free time and disposable income to spend on things like seeing my friends and joining societies. This year I have joined the powerlifting society and hope to compete in Varsity coming up this March!

Donating now to scholarships at Sheffield is more important than ever. By donating, you’re helping to change a student’s life that really needs your support. You’re unlocking experiences we could only dream of before, and making our university experience come to life. This is one of the best investments you can make!”

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Mike’s story

Mike is the first person in his family to attend university. He’s proud to be studying medicine, and of all he has achieved so far. But he’s constantly worrying about money. 

Sheffield male student smiling at the camera

As a medical student Mike works long hours already. Relying on a part-time job to support himself financially would hinder his academic performance and put a huge strain on his mental health.

The rising cost of living is also impacting students like Mike. His rent is now a lot more expensive than last year, and his bills have increased too. 

Thankfully, Mike’s scholarship has put him on an equal footing with his peers.

“I definitely worry about money a lot. Increasingly, financial concerns are something you need to deal with alongside your studies, and it can influence your academic performance.

My uni life today is very different to what it would be without my scholarship. The biggest difference is that I don’t have to work a lot of hours at my part-time job. With this extra free time and the scholarship, I've been able to partake in extracurricular activities. At the moment, I'm learning to roller-skate (I never learnt as a kid), and I am planning to learn to swim as well. Closer to exam season I'm planning to use the scholarship to buy revision materials for my exams.”

Money worries are such a barrier. They can prevent people from applying to university who have the potential to excel here, and go on to have a successful career." 

Mike Azorjiz

Medicine student

“I would like to say thank you for even considering donating to scholarships at Sheffield. I would like you to know that any donation really makes a difference to students and their experience while studying.

Donors directly influence students' academic performance, and help shape them into better people for tomorrow. Your donations can also inspire students to work harder and put themselves in a position to be able to donate to other students in the future.

That’s what my scholarship has done for me. One day, when I can, I’ll pay it forward.”

I want to support students like Mike

Richard's story

Returning to education as a mature student is a big decision. But Richard Vyse knew it was the only way he could achieve his long-held ambition of working in international child protection supporting refugees.

Richard Vyse, Law alumnus, stood outside the Henderson's Relish building in Sheffield

Things took a difficult turn in his first year when he was diagnosed with lymphoma. Despite this devastating setback, Richard graduated with a first class degree. Thanks to a scholarship, he also went on to complete a Master’s in Law, taking him one step closer towards fulfilling his career goals.

"When I heard I’d got the scholarship, my overwhelming reaction was one of relief more than anything. Without it, I simply wouldn’t have been able to afford to study for my Master’s. 

"Receiving the scholarship means having food in the kitchen cupboards. It means being able to get a regular night’s sleep because I’m not worrying about paying council tax. It means not worrying about whether I’ve got enough petrol in the car to get to university. It means not worrying about staying up late to make a packed lunch because I know I have £3.45 to buy a sandwich at the Students’ Union. It’s all those tiny little things that add up."

It’s difficult to convey how much the scholarship has meant to me and to my family. When your bank balance comes down to pennies, every single penny makes a difference. It really does.

Richard Vyse

LLB Law 2017, LLM Law 2018

"Every little bit of worry that’s taken away has allowed me to concentrate on my studies in a way that just wouldn’t have been possible without the funds from the scholarship. Not having to worry about unpaid bills and debts mounting up has made a huge difference.

Saying 'thank you' doesn’t really express the extent of my gratitude. It’s the opportunities I’ve now had and the confidence it’s given me in my own abilities. Getting the scholarship has been recognition that I can do this and that somebody believes in me."

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Kathryn's story

She had the academic ability and ambition to succeed, but money worries were set to prevent Kathryn from achieving her potential. Being awarded a scholarship changed all that.

Former scholarship recipient, Kathryn Darwin

Since graduating, Kathryn's gone on to become a committed teacher in a struggling school, sharing her love of maths with the next generation of students.

"My student loan only just covered my rent, so I relied on funds from my scholarship to be able to afford to eat and cover everyday living costs. The difference this made to my academic success was huge, meaning I was able to use my time studying rather than taking on extra part time work. It also paid for the equipment and textbooks I needed for my course.

I used the money to put a deposit down on accommodation in York for a summer internship too. This was a great help. I didn't have to put pressure on my parents for extra money and I gained some much needed real-world experience."

I wouldn’t have been able to achieve a first class degree without my scholarship. It allowed me to focus on my studies without crushing financial pressures and stresses.

Kathryn Darwin

BSc Mathematics 2012

"The scholarship also meant that when I was really feeling the pressure I could go home and see my family in North Wales - train fares are expensive!

Receiving a scholarship set off a chain of events that led me to excel academically and now professionally. It enabled me to gain a first class honours degree, which then allowed me to access an additional teacher training scholarship for my PGCE. I adore teaching - sharing my passion for maths makes me really happy and I hope to inspire some of my students to study it at university like I did."

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Akinmi's story

With a passion for aircraft and a talent for maths and science, Akinmi set his sights on going to university and becoming an engineer.

Akinmi Akingbade, Aerospace Engineering student and scholarship recipient in the Diamond

But he had caring responsibilities at home in Newcastle and worries about money were holding him back. Thanks to the financial support offered by the University of Sheffield, he made the leap and accepted his place to study Aerospace Engineering.

"As the first in my family to go to university, I wasn’t sure what it would be like or what challenges I’d face when I got there. Thankfully, the scholarship meant that money wouldn’t be one of them. Growing up with my mum and two younger brothers, financial stress was a big burden. Knowing I’d have support in Sheffield was a massive relief.

My course is intense with a particularly full timetable, but I’ve been able to make it my top priority. I don’t have to work long hours in my part-time job and during exams, and I can reduce other commitments without worrying about the impact on my monthly budget. The student loan doesn’t cover my living costs. I’m certain that my studies would be affected if I didn’t have the scholarship to help fill that gap."

Being awarded a scholarship allowed me to take my place at Sheffield  with more confidence that I’d be able to complete the degree.”

Akinmi Akingbade

BEng Aerospace Engineering student

"I’ve made so many friends here and had the chance to pursue my hobbies and take part in lots of new activities. One of the highlights was performing in Sheffield Cathedral with the Acapella Society, which was amazing.

I’m now using some of my scholarship to pay for travel to conferences and interviews for placements. I hope this experience will help me achieve my ambition of working in the aerospace industry designing the next generation of military aircraft."

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