Ewloe student heading to Harvard University in America after receiving top A level grades
An inspiring student from Ewloe is heading to Harvard University in America after receiving top grades in her A levels.
18-year-old Raphaelle Soffe, a Seren Network student, achieved three A*s in maths, politics, and Welsh Bacc, and two As in history and law, and will be accepting her place at the prestigious Harvard University in the US with a scholarship.
Raphaelle, a student at Hawarden High School, first thought about Harvard when she was 14, but discounted it as an option after realising that no one from her school had ever been awarded an academic scholarship at a US university before.
After achieving 10 A*s in her GCSEs, she was invited to join the Seren Network, and was told about the Sutton Trust’s US programme, where she realised that her dream of attending an American university were possible.
She said: “My dad always said that the US would be a good fit for me, and even mentioned Harvard when I was growing up, but I always thought it was out of reach. Once I joined the Seren Network I was told about the Sutton Trust’s US programme, and I was able to go on a free trip to America to visit Yale, Princeton, Amherst and Harvard.
“I remember stepping onto Harvard’s campus for the first time, my face just lit up! I quickly realised Harvard cared just as much about the person as the grades. My extracurricular activities were a crucial element to my application. In fact, it was the experience I had gained from my numerous internships, debating competitions, being part of the Seren Network, and part time job roles, that ensured my university interview was the best that it could be.
“I am incredibly lucky to get be receiving the university’s full scholarship package. It includes healthcare, food, accommodation, start-up grants, and travel. I feel this shows Harvard’s commitment to ensuring that students from a low income background can enter university without any concerns about finances. One requirement of my scholarship is that I do a part-time job on campus, which will be a big contrast to my current job at McDonalds. I can also take part in research, or learn financing techniques, whilst still being paid.
“I flew out to Harvard a few days ago and am throwing myself into campus life straight away, taking part in a programme to clean dorms and taking trips to Boston in between. I’m also taking part in another programme for international students, setting up a bank, a new phone contract, and meeting students from all around the world. I’m also going to be meeting my new room mates soon – one is from New York and the other is from California.”
Raphaelle is among the first generation of her family to go to university, with her eldest sister having recently graduated from Oxford University.
The Seren Network was formed following a report by Oxbridge Ambassador, Paul Murphy, former MP for Torfaen and now Lord Murphy, who was appointed by the Welsh Government to examine the decline in Welsh applications and admissions to Oxford and Cambridge. There are over 2,000 students on the Network across 11 different hubs.
The Network aims to increase Welsh representation not just at Oxbridge, but at the Russell Group and Sutton Trust 30 universities, by providing information, advice and guidance, as well as workshops, lectures and visits to some of the UK’s top universities.
She continued: “I think I realised through my sister’s experiences at Oxford that I was better suited to learning in the US. I think the focus on pure academics is greater at Oxford, while Harvard also looks to encourage its students to be equally focused on extracurricular activities.
“Seren played such a big part in my journey and pointed me in the right direction towards Harvard. I think it’s a vital programme for Welsh students, and its existence provides much needed support for state school students and inspiration for those that need the confidence to apply to the top universities.
“What really distinguishes Harvard from any other world-leading university is its friendliness and support, and I know it will help me to achieve my goals. Once I graduate, I would like to enter British politics, initially in international relations, and possibly then move into domestic politics. My dream job doesn’t yet have a title, but I want to find a role that will help improve the economic and social situation of this country, and to really use my skills for the benefit of others.”
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