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Nazifa’s story


“My mum migrated from Bangladesh in the 80s and my dad in the 90s after getting married. They had gone to high school in Bangladesh but never had any further education in the UK. I grew up in Tottenham, north London and went to Northumberland Park Community School (now Dukes Aldridge Academy). It was from school that I was referred to Eastside Young Leaders' Academy where I first heard about Royal SpringBoard and the potential opportunity of going to boarding school.

Boarding school helped me to realise that you don't necessarily have to be a product of your own environment. Growing up in North London, it's hard to miss the gang culture and it's even easier to get involved in it. Getting the scholarship to do my A-Levels at boarding school helped me to become more independent and has definitely prepared me for moving away to university. But more importantly, it showed my community that hard work and dedication can lead to great things, regardless of your postcode or any other circumstances.   

The best thing about boarding school was 100 per cent the people I met. When you're seeing the same people 24/7, it's likely that you will become extremely close. The best part about boarding is that a lot of the students are international, so you'll probably know someone in most places if you ever go travelling. I was lucky enough to go to Croatia at the end of Lower Sixth and stay with a friend. She was able to show me around her city and I was able to show her around London when she stayed at my house for a weekend. The staff were also incredible. I had never had a teacher who had done a PhD before, so to meet so many people who were experts in their fields was truly inspiring!

If I hadn't gone to boarding school, I don't think I would have done as well academically. The jump from GCSEs to A-Levels is a huge shock and can really knock down your confidence. The support I received from the staff at St Mary's was invaluable and helped me to work on my weaknesses so that they were no longer an issue. I also think I would not have developed my interests as much as I have been able to. As I said above, the staff were experts in their fields and it was through engaging with them that I developed my interest in gender history and politics. I would have most likely also never gotten to experience living in Cambridge – it is a beautiful city and I am sad that I have had to leave already!

Hopefully, I will be starting at the University of Warwick from October 2018 to read History and Politics. In the future, I'd like to go into academia as I really enjoyed researching for my history coursework. I'm also very interested in diplomacy and hope to work abroad for at least a few years.

My experience at boarding school and with Royal SpringBoard was challenging but equally full of self-discovery. This experience helped me to realise where my strengths and interests lie. I also learnt that you won't reach your full potential unless you leave your comfort zone and it is because of this that I had such an amazing two years.”


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