Since 2012 Santander Universities has been enabling a number of students to study at Reading who otherwise may not be able to through the Santander Scholarship Scheme. This week, we speak to Vicky – one of the Scheme’s recipients – about how the Scholarship changed her life.
Vicky thought she wouldn’t be able to go to university after the sudden death of her father left her with no household income. Faced with the challenge of covering the gap between maintenance loans and the cost of living – during a time of immeasurable grief – Vicky felt out of her depth and overwhelmed.
She said: “When my dad died it felt like everything was happening at once. I was at this crucial point in my life and suddenly he was gone. When I look back it feels like I was dreaming the whole time – I don’t know how I got through it.
“I kept thinking about my future and feeling guilty, as if I shouldn’t be thinking like that. Sometimes I’d remember when my sisters were at university and would call my dad and tell him they were in a tight spot and he’d help them out. I knew I wouldn’t be able to do that – there wasn’t anyone who could help me.”
Vicky’s remarkable determination during her A-Levels managed to secure her a place at Reading, however her financial circumstances continued to be an obstacle. She was able to apply for a scholarship funded by Santander Universities aimed to help students who are assessed to have no household income.
A light at the end of the tunnel
“When I received the news about being awarded the Scholarship it made me feel like there was a light at the end of the tunnel. It didn’t take away the feelings of grief – no amount of money could do that – but it felt like maybe there was someone who could help me after all.”
In 2019, Vicky took up her place at Reading and received £3,000 per year in funding for the duration of her studies. “The funding helped me in more ways than just paying bills, it made me feel more normal, like I could do the things other students could do. I met my best friends in my first year and they got me through some of the hardest times. They saved me – had I not chosen to go to university I would never have met them, and who knows where I’d be,” she shared.
“That’s the difference this kind of funding makes – it gives you hope and the opportunity to meet people that will change your life.”
Before Vicky’s father died she had her sights set on studying abroad during her degree, and after his death was unsure if the opportunity would be too much of a strain on her finances. However, with the help of the Scholarship, Vicky was able to achieve her ambitions.
“I made it to Virginia!” Vicky exclaimed. “It was the most amazing experience – one of the reasons I chose Reading as my first choice was because of the opportunity to study abroad.
“Going to America felt like I was finally doing what I had always dreamed of, it felt so surreal. Even after everything I had been through, I was achieving things I never thought would be possible.
“If I could say anything to Santander it would be a huge thank you for everything, I’m so grateful that you gave me a chance.”
The University would like to thank Santander Universities on behalf of Vicky and all the recipients who have benefitted from their incredible generosity.
Find out more about how you can help support students at Reading.