Young Scots are Harvard bound

3rd June 2011 at 01:00
Three looked-after pupils awarded high-profile scholarships

Three looked-after young Scots have been given the opportunity to take part in a summer school at Harvard University, in an extension of a successful scholarship programme.

The three 17-year-olds have won scholarships provided by the charity Who Cares? Scotland and the Spark of Genius Trust, which aim to reverse the trend of young people in care failing to achieve their potential.

Cally, who is cared for by the Aberlour Trust, Dean, who is being educated by Spark of Genius, and Mandy, who is in residential care with East Lothian Council, won their places for the seven-week university-level programme through competitive selection.

Graham Connelly, senior lecturer in education at Strathclyde University and a board member of Who Cares? Scotland, said: "The high-profile nature of Harvard is important. It's the kind of opportunity that students from more privileged backgrounds get, so we thought, why not make it available to young people who have had a less advantaged start in life?"

Giving the young people a taster of university life at one of the world's elite universities will raise their aspirations, hopes Pauline Boyce, depute chief executive of Who Cares? Scotland. "It is about saying, `This is something looked-after children can achieve.'"

Cally has opted to study psychology and creative writing; Dean has chosen a course in building dynamic websites and space exploration and astrobiology; and Mandy will follow neuro-biology and African and African- American studies.

If they pass exams in their chosen subjects, they will receive college credits. The students will be living in halls of residence with about 1,200 young people from across the United States and some 100 other countries.

"Harvard will give me the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and enable me to broaden my horizons socially, academically and culturally," said Cally.

Mandy added: "Nine of the past 11 American presidents studied at Harvard. For me to be afforded the opportunity to attend this premier university is an unparalleled experience."

The Harvard Scholarship was set up by Who Cares? Scotland as part of its Reaching Higher campaign. In its first year, it was awarded to George Fraser from Dundee, who attended the summer school at Harvard last year.

Thanks to support from the board of the Spark of Genius Trust, who were impressed by George's experience, Who Cares? Scotland was this year able to extend the scholarship to three places. Worth more than pound;7,500 per youngster, it covers tuition, accommodation and travel costs, while the young people also receive support from their care providers and raise funds for their living costs.

julia.belgutay@tes.co.uk.

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