I knew I wanted to do politics, but I didn’t know the variables, career options and the pathways. When I got my work experience with Resolution Foundation in summer 2016, I didn’t know what a think tank is. Learning about their goals and what they do I realised how many routes there are. I got to speak to the team; people who came from diverse backgrounds and different walks of life. I remember someone who studied physics at university and worked in statistics! I enjoyed the tasks they gave me, I found the topic I was researching interesting it made me feel like I was doing something important. A couple of months later I got to read the article I had done the research for.
Coming from East London, this was a very new environment and a new experience. It opened my eyes to understanding what the world of work is really like. It also gave me the confidence that as long as I have the knowledge, I will be able to pursue a career in politics in some way. I mentioned all this in my personal statement and applied to Cambridge university.
Three months later Access was organising a one-day insight into Parliament and the Channel 4 newsroom. Garry Gibbon, Channel 4’s political correspondent, gathered Ed Miliband, Jess Philips and Nick Clegg to name a few for an open debate with us. Once we moved to the Channel 4 studio we got to meet Jon Snow and Fatima Manji. This day changed my perception about the media. I realised this is a viable career choice, it expanded my choices for the future. I had a great time.
My Cambridge interview came a week after. I was able to mention my recent parliamentary tour and apply the skills I gained in my mock interview. As soon as I got my offer into Cambridge, I knew I need to work extremely hard. In the following six months I focused on A-Levels and preparing for exams. My final results were a bit lower than Cambridge requirements, but I did get in. I am now in my second year studying Human, Social and Political Sciences at Fitzwilliam College Cambridge.
Cambridge is tough. There is a running joke here that you can only devote your time to one society. I managed to split my time into three; the Bengali society, the Islamic society and the Cambridge Union –Debating Society. This was on top of being employed in the student union and I still managed to somehow get good grades! I act as the Access Officer in the student union. My role is to visit a variety of schools to encourage students like me, 3 years ago, to apply to Cambridge. I go back to East Ham to give talks and I went back to my school, Brampton Academy to give a presentation about what’s it like to study at Cambridge.
That’s why I do it. It’s because of schemes like Access Aspiration I am in Cambridge. I want to give access to others. It fits well in college. It was set up to help disadvantaged students access Cambridge in 1920s. I still want to pursue a career in politics. My dream job for the time being is to become an MP of East Ham one day. I think I’ll start from cyber security, the job of the future it seems. We will see, but now, going from Cambridge, I feel like I can go anywhere.
Thoughts on Alumni group
As an Alumni of the Access Aspiration programme I get to share my thoughts on what the Mayor’s Fund for London could do, which is an excellent opportunity – especially as this campaign is focused on the long-term investment in London.
When we, the alumni, meet, I feel that there is a lot to be said. We are all from different schools, boroughs, backgrounds and ethnicities. One person cannot speak for their generation. It’s great to have 15 people to give their views and ideas; it gave me a lot of ideas I haven’t thought about myself.
You get to see you’re around inspiring driven people from the suburbs of London, and although we are from diverse areas, we all have a mutual goal which is to improve the wellbeing of young Londoners. We are a good force for change and making a difference.