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Scholar's corner

Urban Scholars selected for Yale Summer School

"Elizabeta and I have fantastic news! We have been selected to be part of a residential summer school at Yale University. There were thousands of applicants and we were shortlisted to the last 175, and then attended a four day residential course at London School of Economics where they narrowed it down to 150. It was during the application process, and particularly the residential, that our experience as Urban Scholars came into play. The Urban Scholars programme has made us both very confident in group work and working with strangers. The film making sessions that we did at Brunel turned out to be extremely useful as we had to make a YouTube video as part of our application. Also, the sessions that we spent with Moody's at Canary Wharf where we did interview practice and CV writing both contributed enormously to our success. Thank you for your support and encouragement throughout the whole programme! Finally, please say our thanks to the people at Brunel and Moody's."

Successful Inspire Session at the Brunel University London

Scholars have topped the international league table with their performance in a forensic problem-based learning challenge run by Aspire More Able. Matt who ran the sessions wrote 'the workshop we delivered is one of the most challenging we offer - with multiple high-level thinking skills and team communication required. However, as mentioned a number of your teams not only excelled but set new records, beating the previous scores achieved in the UK, Singapore and Australia.'

Congratulations to Milton Keynes Urban Scholars

Since joining the programme, Milton Keynes Academy have their first ever students gaining places at Oxford and the London School of Economics.

Impact of the Urban Scholars Programme

"I joined Brunel Urban Scholars in 2004, and graduated in 2008. I was dubious about going at first, because at that time I wasn't very confident in making new friends. I almost didn't go on that first Saturday, but I am so glad I did.

The Urban Scholars programme not only encouraged me to think about the future, but gave me the tools and information I needed to decide how I was going to achieve my goals, and successfully follow my ambitions. With such a wide variety of sessions led by professionals in every field imaginable, the other scholars and I were so lucky to be given an insight into a whole world of opportunities. The most valuable thing the programme taught me though was that you can never aim too high.

I have just graduated from St Mary's University College with a First Class degree in English and Media Arts, of which I am extremely proud. Alongside my degree course I have been working as an English and Maths tutor for 4 to 15 year olds, in order to gain as much teaching experience as possible. In September, I plan to embark on a PGCE Primary course, in order to fulfil my life-long ambition of becoming a teacher, so that I can instil a passion for learning in my own students, just as Urban Scholars did for me.

I feel extremely grateful to the Brunel Urban Scholars programme, and all of the staff involved, for helping me to develop the courage to step out of my comfort zone, in order to reach higher than I ever have before. Since graduating from the programme I have had the opportunity, as an ambassador, to return and meet the next cohort of students. I was happy to see that the programme lives on, and I have no doubt that it will continue to inspire young people and encourage them to explore a world of possibilities."

"Just a few thoughts on how joining Brunel Urban Scholars has helped me out so far. As an intelligent but quiet Year 9 student, joining Brunel Urban Scholars gave me the confidence and motivation to deliver presentations to audiences of around 20, to the occasional 50, viewers.

As I began my way into sixth form, I applied to be part of the sixth form student council as Deputy Head. The presentation I had to deliver was a chance to sell and prove my skills to everyone to gain this position with pride. To an audience of 50, I ensured I maintained eye contact, positive posture and a loud, clear voice. It was quite nerve-wrecking, although after settling into the talk I did very well. Two weeks later, I found out I had gained this position. Delivering presentations were my weakness prior to BUS as I never had the confidence. The programme helped me in a big way.

In the same way, it also allowed me to gain a full-time permanent job at Hilton Terminal 4, working in food and beverage, where I spoke in front of many assistant managers and 15 other candidates.The task was to introduce myself, say why I want the job and an interesting fact. Revising the company was a great advantage as I was the only candidate that stated figures (for example 540 Hiltons in the world, in 78 different locations). The interviewees were shocked.

Also, there were a few group exercises which made us think and show what creative minds we have, in order to provide the guest with the best dining experience. Communication skills were key here, so we could hear each other's ideas and whether to counteract it or not. The Brunel Urban Scholars majorly improved my presentation skills, communication skills, teamwork skills and revision strategies.

Thanks to the BUS team!"

"I feel that the Urban Scholars programme has helped impact me by allowing me to see education in a broader manner, seeing how looking outside of the box can be helpful. Additionally, Urban Scholars has given me help in creating new diverse friendships with those I might not otherwise be friends with."

"The Urban Scholars programme has benefited me in a number of ways. Seeing the Brunel campus gave me an insight into university life, and the academic sessions required more independence, creativity and critical thinking than at school and served as an introduction to the style seen at university.

In particular, the English sessions broadened my approach to analysing texts. Other sessions enhanced my presentation skills and I had several opportunities to put them into practice. I also had the chance to meet scholars from other schools and work with them. The visiting speakers often helped me to gain a sense of perspective and reflect on both my achievements and future ambitions. I certainly feel more confident in myself as a result of attending the programme, through inspiration from visiting speakers, skills developed in the sessions and working with the other scholars."

"I was a student who was picked to attend the Brunel Scholars Programme for four years. At first I was double minded as to why I was picked and why I was there, but my thoughts started to change as I continued to attend the programme. I have just left college and I am currently seeking an apprenticeship in the creative studies field.

I would say that the biggest impact this programme had on me was to become more confident as a person, and to be able to express myself more. The part I dreaded was to present in front of others and speak out but to my surprise, this became something I was good at. Not only did I enjoy the Saturdays, I also learnt so much from subject areas that I thought I wasn’t good at, such as science. The programme also made me aware of the fact that university wasn’t the only way, and that there were alternative paths to take after A-levels.

I was encouraged and motivated to go for what I aspire to be and not to let anything hold me back. I remember meeting motivational speakers who were always uplifting, and who always created a positive atmosphere and a can-do attitude. Overall they taught me to never settle for less, and to always keep trying which is definitely something I continue to do in both an education and work field.

Looking back, I am glad that I attended the Brunel Scholars Programme. It is something I am proud of now and something that will stick with me throughout my career. You even get your own graduation at the very end!"

Iris Isok
"Starting the Brunel University Urban Scholars programme in Year 8 and having the support right throughout secondary really helped me, not only educationally but it made me think ahead about my aspirations. I felt it was important because it makes you believe you have a future to work for and therefore this motivates you.

I think the more interactive and active sessions helped build on our teamwork skills and encouraged us out of our comfort zone, while the more lesson-style sessions taught us revision skills and I gained an understanding of what type of learner I was. In terms of career choice it definitely made me feel university was an option, during the programme and also the information we were given during college made me feel more confident about applying for university."

Gudria Ali-Choudhrey
"The Urban Scholars programme was a great experience for me as I learned a lot. Through critical thinking sessions I learned to look at things differently, and it helped with my studies. The programme provided a lot of skills to take home which I would use throughout my life. One of the best things was the motivational speakers, which made me think to follow your dreams and never give up!"

Anton Stevens
"Joining the Urban Scholars during secondary school may be one of the best decision I've made. I learnt a wide range of invaluable skills and received great support towards my study. It was here started to think about my future more and more. Through the programme, I received a Scholarship to study maths at Brunel, which has been a tremendous help. 

Also, having the chance to be a Student Ambassador for the programme has been a great experience, being able to give back and help and encourage younger students with their educational goals." 

Andrew McCarthy
"I attended the Urban Scholars programme for four years during my GCSEs and A-levels, and now study Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths, University of London. 

I feel the programme has helped me in a multitude of ways, both academically and more broadly in life. The workshops arranged at Brunel helped me with revision for exams, structuring essays effectively and time management skills (which believe me, when you're studying at university without a parent screaming at you to revise, you'll be grateful for).

More importantly, Urban Scholars has given me transferable skills. The presentation skills learnt at Brunel have particularly helped me since leaving school. Over the summer before starting university, I spent three months teaching children in Thailand, and I really don't know how I would have coped had it not been for the confidence to present to a group of people I had never met before. I am now more grateful than ever for Brunel Urban Scholars programme, because without it I would have missed out on life-changing opportunities. 

I'm now studying a subject I'm really passionate about, and participate in various extra-curricular programmes including mentoring first year students and organising an exhibition in both London and Mali. I can only thank the programme for giving me the confidence to do that."

Feedback on the Urban Scholars Careers Day, March 2013

"I really enjoyed my time at Moody's Foundation. I liked the structure of the schedule: presentation, question and answer session and then the job shadowing. What I found the most interesting was the shadowing because it was first-hand experience of what a job on that floor would be like. All my questions were answered."

"The day was very beneficial. Canary Wharf is such a sophisticated fast-paced working environment and I immediately felt wrapped up in it. We got to see the duties of different workers, giving me insight into a potential job role, inspiring talks from people involved at the top and the opportunity to network. As my dissertation was due, I was a bit reluctant to go at first but so glad I went and I came away with something of benefit to me."

"The Moody's foundation careers day was a great experience which was topped off with the amazing views of London from the Canary Wharf. We were given an insight into what Moody's do and how the staff in the Moody's Foundation work on a daily basis. The only improvement I can think of is making the day last longer."

"My experience at the Moody's workshop was great! I learnt a great deal right from the introduction, about the company, what they do and how they do it. The staff there we very friendly and informative. I found the job shadowing very beneficial as I got an understanding and a feel of what it is like to be a Financial Data Analyst. The snacks were great too!

"The Careers Day at Moody’s was my first time in Canary Wharf, apart from going there the week before because I mixed up my date. At first I was quite intimidated by the extremely high ceiling and the fact that I can see my reflection in everything! The first speaker told us about Moody’s and what they do. I personally think that it could have been improved if it had been a little shorter and if there was a change in his tone of voice. I did learn something at the time, but right now I would not be able to recall anything.

After the introduction, we got into small groups with a Data Analyst. This for me was the one best parts of the day, as we were able to find out how they got to where they are and ask questions. Our Data Analyst also asked us all what we are all doing now and want to do, then gave us the best advice he can which I found really helped.

Job-shadowing was the next activity we did, and I was shadowing a lady called Maria. She was extremely friendly and really easy to talk to, which was slightly surprising because as we walked through the offices everybody was silent and 100% focused on their screens. She also got to know us and what we do, and then she showed us exactly what she does. A lot of it I didn't understand at first because I don't study finance or accounting, but Maria broke it down for me to understand. One thing she told us was that we need to make sure to learn a language. At Moody’s they are in constant contact with people all over the world, so they require everyone to have another language. I enjoy languages and I'm currently learning Spanish outside of college. She then gave us a quick tour, and showed us the view of a corner office. I definitely do like the idea of a corner office.

Lastly was a conclusion from the director. He was memorable because he was relaxed in his speech and easy to relate to. He also had a sense of humour which helped to keep us all engaged.

Overall, Finance and Data Analysing are not exactly what I want to get into, but I chose to go because I had nothing to lose just knowledge to gain. I enjoyed learning how they got to where they are at Moody’s, and the advice I was given about what I want to do."

Gratitude by Hodo

Gratitude. One word. Big concept
I share my debt of gratitude with all my friends
Whether Christians, Muslims, Jews, and such or even Athiest 
Regardless of the place we live or where your faiths begun
My gratitude begins with this, "I've learned that we are One"
My gratitude goes deeper still for breath, for sight, for life and for the world

I'm grateful for the many days when clarity is strong
As well as those it "seems" that life has somehow led me wrong
For it's those times that awaken me and nudge me toward the light
Till once again my hopes and dreams are clearly held in sight

I'm grateful for the love within the circles that I dwell
My family, friends and even those who've made life seem like hell
For each of those who have taught me more regarding of how to Love
I am grateful for the right to dream, to hope, to wish, and know
That all my thoughts are merely seeds which based on Love must grow
That if I'll think them consciously and nurture them with care
These visions held, my hearts desires, will soon be waiting there

I'm grateful for the fact I've learned that we consciously create
That to mold and shape a life desired I must keep my thinking straight
That when the fear that shows it's head which is based on false belief
I have free will to change the thoughts to those that bring relief
I'm grateful too for false beliefs which led me on my quest
For mentors met along the way I truly do feel blessed
Who clearly showed me of the need to understand my worth
And "Higher Truth" which promises a life divine on earth
For teachers who have shown me that my "thoughts" create my strife
I'm grateful for the plan which says whatever you receive
Is drawn to you through feelings felt, created by belief

I'm grateful for all nature, the birds the grass, the trees
The lakes which hold abundant life, a summer evenings breeze
The clouds above the ground below, the moon, the stars, the sun
The days and nights which represent that another day is done
I'm grateful for the time to spend to deeply go within
To tap into the Source of Truth that's sure to help me win
For it is there that truth becomes known 
regardless of what is taught 
In man made circles of the world that form restrictive thought. 

I've learned to stay in gratitude no matter how things seem
That perceptions held as negatives will only slow your dream
So even though my path will lead through troubled spots I know
I must keep on, keep focus fixed, on life's abundant flow
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.
Gratitude. One word. Big concept. 

No Title by Valeria

One of the worse feelings is getting an alright grade in school knowing you can do better, getting home upset and mostly disappointed in yourself. Mum sees it as being rude but Nan knows, grabs you and hugs and says the simple words ever and those words just make you feel better. Even though the words “when a door closes another window opens isn’t exactly the most meaningful words out there by my Nan saying them she means to bring me hope which I thought, was last. I’m not saying my Mum doesn’t care I’m just saying a Nan’s hug is a Nan’s hug. One of the moments where you feel most loved.

What’s better than being around your family and friends? They are the people that will always be there for you no matter what life brings. They are the people that will hold your hand and walk beside you, always. They will give up their life for you. They give your life a meaning. It’s amazing when you see them smile or hear their voice after a long time. It makes you feel like flying.

When they are gone they feel like there is no point to live, like you can’t survive. It feels like you are going to die without them. It’s awful when you can’t see them smile. It’s awful when the only thing you want is to hug them and hear their voice but you can’t. You can’t today or tomorrow. You can’t next week or even next year. They are gone and are never coming back. It hurts!!!!

No Title by Andree-Ann

She stood by the window. The sky was pale though the man of clouds enrapturing suddenly would seem like it was going to rain or pour down with the sorrow of the God’s they would say. But that wasn’t how she felt, her face slowly beaming with joy as the sky finally burst its banks and began its decent to Earth. She loved the rain. The cooling feel against the hot tarmac her feet hard to endure the sound of the splash that tends all inside. It cleaned away the ruins of the once high and towering skyscrapers, the cracked roads and desolate city. Had everyone left?

Or did they just disappear with the end of the world, they had claimed. Why was she still there, in the empty city? Opened the apartment door to what was left of it all… Maybe the Gods had forgotten her after all.

Things that I think by Ayopo

Sitting down in my lesson
Drifting away…. Drifting?
Maybe like wood on water
Floating away going further
Yeah … Driftwood
Or maybe like Japanese race car
Sliding sideways, oh so far
But why sideways, why not straight
What does the driver do if he thinks too late?
Does he crash? Or does he go in circles?
Hmm…. Circles, I have maths next
Circle theory, area of a circle r2
Hmmm Pie
I want lunch
Is pie something I should try?
Is rice gonna to be nicer?
Or the cake which bakes
With icing like lakes
Lakes are big ponds, filled with water
Like houses, filled with mortar
Or schools, or classrooms
Wait… am I in class right now?

Morning by Linda

How long does it take to get to school or work? Maybe 10 or 15 minutes with all the strength we have within us we gather up the will to face another Monday.

To do and say the same things we say day after day when we reach the place we need to reach. The bus journey- planning out conversations and forgetting that you failed to plan for examinations.

Last minute homework and thinking of lessons where you won’t work. It won’t work, says the yellow sign as her oyster cards beeps red time after time. “Get off the bus” the bus driver says as she argues her point after time.

“I just topped it up a minute ago, it’s fully charged now can we just go?” Does this lady not know that we have places to reach? Instead of getting off, she begins to preach. 5 – 10 minutes or 5 – 10 years, the vibrations of the bus stop and I’m nearly in tears.

Creative Self Expression by Year 11 Urban Scholars, Poems about our Lives

Poem 1
I remind you of the blue ocean, calm and slow and bring about a positive atmosphere. I move about, as if shocked with electricity and what I am still processing. I am as quiet as a mouse, yet always squeaking.

Poem 2
I am me, and me is someone I am still finding. The me I am finding is a me I do not know. A person I only know a fraction of, may only be a fraction of what I want me to be, a me I can be proud of me all look up to. A me most loath for not my personality but the simple fact I’m always right.

Poem 3
Tired, Tired, Tired
Yet another morning,
Yet another day,
Tired, Tired, Tired
Yet another exam time,
Tired, Tired, Tired,
Yet another homework, uncompleted,
Tired, Tired, Tired
I can’t wake early because I can’t sleep early,
Tired, Tired, Tired
As time flies by,
Tired, Tired, Tired
Of all the memories I am trying to hold onto fading, fading, fading
My childhood is fading
My memories are fading
My entertainment is fading
My enjoyment is fading
Pressure, Pressure, Pressure,
Pressure to do well in school,
Pressure to do my best and give it my all,
Pressure to with the crowd,
Pressure of Exams,
Pressure from mum and dad to be a better daughter,
Pressure from brothers to be a better sister
Pressure from teachers to be a better student
Pressure from God to be a better me,
Me, Me, Me is something I can’t think of now,
Because life is worth living for others not just yourself,
I am waiting, waiting for a special person, a person who will reunite me with me……..

Poem 4
That box, that square of emotions a container, stopping time at a second,
Trapping emotions and memories within,
That photograph, the silence that will kill you as you stare at every smile, frown or tear.
That photograph that holds the colours inside and doesn’t go beyond the imaginary.
Being able to take moment in your life that you can hold on to forever, the silent emotion silently screaming out at you.
That square of colour that may allow you to breakdown as you remember the past but it will also make you smile as you remember the present.
It’s a container of hidden meaning and secret desires,
But every time you expose that container to your heart, you face a wave of emotions.

Poem 5
Walking away from a crowded room. That room full of liars, cheaters, attention seekers. I refuse to know them. I rather feel isolated, lonely and depressed than be associated with those people. Who do they think they are? They change our mood and the way that we feel just by one stare. JUST ONE STARE! That simple glance says it all. Reading their eyes, reading their minds, reading between every word they say. Why? Why? Why?, do we even think about what they have to say? Is it because we have an inner feeling that what they say is right? Or is it that they are something we’re not. It’s funny this world we live in. We say be an individual, but there always someone we rather be. Someone we look up to as a role model or someone who has something that you don’t. It’s a funny world we live in.

Poem 6
It’s almost as if I have been given a mission an almost impossible task that would require my many greatest strengths, power and determination to succeed in. The process to fly through the pathway it held would be a gruelling and tough, long hard, stressful and draining one. I was doubting myself, as if I couldn’t do this despite that I wanted it more that I could ever desire something. My hands clasped onto its perfections that could shower me once I cracked it, I can succeed in this, I can. But one thing held me back, one tiny little barrier of suspected failure causing me to feel the most insecure being doubted by others. It’s ok though, I could prove them wrong and express my many strengths powered by aspiration and determination.