I first visited Oxford on a day out with my family when I was ten years old. Whilst in the city, we stumbled across a sign outside Balliol College, inviting the public to look around. As I walked into the quad in Balliol, I was in awe of what I saw. It was at this very moment that I decided that I was going to Oxford University.
However, the following year I became seriously ill and, from that point onwards, hardly went to school. I was at a state school and told not to bother taking my GCSEs and, certainly, not to bother with university. Yet, when everything else was so beyond my control, studying became my unwavering focus. I taught myself, from hospital and home and, much to my school’s amazement, was later offered a place to read English Literature and Language at Jesus College, Oxford University.
Whilst there, I found out I had been living with undiagnosed active tuberculosis for 13 years and had to start 18 months of life-saving chemotherapy treatment.
In these circumstances, I had both earned a place and graduated from one of the top universities in the world. If I could do it, so could other young people with barriers to their education.
When I graduated I was still on the chemotherapy treatment and wasn't in a position to work. I asked myself; what am I good at? Writing, and what do I know about? Oxford Uni. I remember thinking how much I would have benefited from a free insight into student life and how much my journey had taught me about navigating the complex application process and overcoming barriers. So, ‘That Oxford Girl’ was born.
What started off as a stop-gap for my CV - a little blog and Instagram, providing a student perspective of the application process and life at Oxford University, has organically developed into a powerful free access platform, encouraging young people from ALL backgrounds to consider Oxford Uni as an option.