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‘It’s about paying it forward’: Dagenham woman hopes to raise £23k to fulfil Cambridge University dream

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 August 2020 | UPDATED: 11:46 17 August 2020

Warwick University graduate Tamara Valentina needs to raise £23,000 to secure her place at the University of Cambridge. Picture: Savanna Achampong

Warwick University graduate Tamara Valentina needs to raise £23,000 to secure her place at the University of Cambridge. Picture: Savanna Achampong

Archant

A woman is hoping to raise £23,000 so she can take up her dream offer of a place at the University of Cambridge.

Sights of Cambridge: punts on the River Cam. Picture: Vysotsky (Wikimedia)Sights of Cambridge: punts on the River Cam. Picture: Vysotsky (Wikimedia)

Tamara Valentina from Dagenham hopes to study a master’s degree in psychology and education, but is determined not to let her humbler beginnings stop her getting there.

“It’s an amazing opportunity not just because Cambridge is a great institution, but because opportunities like this don’t happen to people like me, people from low income and black and ethnic minority backgrounds.

“But the dream is somewhat overshadowed by the financial reality,” Tamara said.

The Warwick University graduate’s passion is education. Her long term goal is to set up an initiative to help remove barriers holding back youngsters from poorer and minority backgrounds. “For me, it’s about paying it forward,” Tamara, 23, said.

Her research would look at how psychology can help improve young people’s educational outcomes. And the youth worker with a first in psychology has experience of overcoming hurdles while among better off peers at university. “It was challenging in a sense, overcoming impostor syndrome and questioning whether this was the place for me, then realising how fortunate I was to make it there,” Tamara said.

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In spite of receiving bursaries, she worked throughout her studies at Warwick, in part to help pay bills back home.

During her final year Tamara started work on a project which brought home how wide the gap in attainment is between poorer students and wealthier peers.

The work inspired her to apply to Cambridge. But Tamara has until August 21 to meet the last condition of her offer, which is to show the cost of her studies can be funded.

“Some might say it’s a bit late in the day for crowdfunding, but I’m hopeful this will happen,” Tamara said.

Cambridge estimates living and accommodation expenses for the 10-month-long stay would amount to £12,000 while the course cost is £11,000.

Tamara’s applications for financial help from the university were unsuccessful. She is hoping to succeed with a bid for help submitted to the Black Heart Foundation, which works to improve access to education.

To help visit gofundme.com


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