Oxford reject wins place at Cambridge
It is believed that Ms Spence will start at England's other ancient university later this year. The former pupil from Monkseaton school, Whitley Bay, was forced to apply to Harvard university to read biochemistry after her application for medicine at Magdalen College was rejected despite a string of predicted A grades at A-level.
Her case prompted Chancellor Gordon Brown to accuse Magdalen of elitism. Ms Spence is understood to have checked that she could use an American degree as a stepping stone to studying medicine at Cambridge before accepting her Harvard place. She said she would encourage more British students to consider applying for American universities.
In an interview with the Times Higher Educational Supplement Ms Spence, who graduated from Harvard this summer, said she had had a tough time at the Ivy League university.
She did not take A-levels in languages or maths, but Harvard science courses required A-level-equivalent qualifications in the subjects, so she had to take extra courses. "With many hours of scheduled classes, multiple homework sets and essays each week, I felt substantially more overworked than I had done at A-level," she said.
But she said she was now "more well-rounded, confident and better-prepared to make contributions to medicine than I was four years ago".
Studying at Harvard had also offered a wealth of extra-curricular activities.
She said: "With the university rowing team, I raced at events all over the country and took part in yearly training trips to Florida.
"Most importantly, I've made many lifelong friendships with people from all over North America."