Gifty is a reflective, resilient and independent young woman from Hackney, east London. With no family history of university attendance she made the most of her three years on The Access Project and is now enjoying life at The University of Sheffield, where she is reading International Relations. But her journey to get there wasn’t simple. On a wintry Monday morning I spoke to Gifty about her time on The Access Project and how she got to where she is today.

University Applications

The first thing we talk about is the valued support she received on university applications from her programme coordinator and the challenges she would have faced if it she hadn’t received that guidance. She mentions how her parents’ lack of experience with university applications meant she didn’t have a clear idea of what the universities expected from her, and how her dyslexia limited her ability to write down her thoughts in her personal statement. She says that through intensive and personalised support from her programme coordinator she was able to make a university application which did both her ambitions and ability justice.


When Gifty describes her relationship with her History tutor she describes how he prepared her not only for her A Levels but also for university, preparing her for the rigour of the academic work that she would have to complete at university, “he wasn’t like a teacher” she says. Gifty says she loved the tutoring model as it gave her the opportunity to spend time with someone, focusing on exactly what she found difficult — her tutor coached her to find the answers to questions and theories she didn’t understand. She says the privilege of personal tutoring was something she would have been unable to enjoy otherwise.

University Life

She is currently working hard at university, saying that her “workload is something else”(quite a contrast to my personal experience of the first month at university). She is studying International Relations, using the skills she learnt with her tutor to write excellent pieces of coursework. She is aiming high, with ambitions to work for the European Union or United Nations. Gifty is making lots of friends and has even found herself a replica tutor, a fellow student who helps her with anything she doesn’t understand.

Journey to University

However, Gifty’s journey to get to university was definitely rocky, relying on a scholarship from university to be able to attend. On results day she discovered that she was on a waiting list for this and she spent the next two weeks working in ‘NEXT’ considering whether she could pay her own way through university. But on her birthday she received the life-changing news that she had been awarded with the scholarship from Sheffield University, “Oh My God I was so amazed” was the only way she could articulate the relief and joy she felt. As soon as she got the news, her mum said she was leaving the next day, her parents had always been ambitious for her and they didn’t want her to miss out on anything.

Intellectual Discussions

Gifty speaks highly of The Access Project and says she is “so grateful” for the time her tutor spent helping her. Gifty has loved meeting so many open-minded people, something her tutor assured her she would — one example that stood out was a six-hour conversation she had with her flatmate about religion. Gifty was made for university and we are extremely proud to have been able to support her.