Dear lovely followers,
At midnight tonight we'll be entering 2019, so I thought now was the perfect time to reflect on the last year and everything that has happened with 'That Oxford Girl'.
What a year it has been!
The year started on a high when SO MANY OF YOU got in touch in January to say you had been offered places at Oxford Uni - loads of you said 'That Oxford Girl' had given you the confidence to apply in the first place which meant the world to me! A year on, so many of you who messaged me back in January, are now studying at Oxford Uni and have signed up as 'That Oxford Girl' student ambassadors.
The 'That Oxford Girl' student ambassador scheme has grown from 7 to 70 current Oxford students who write voluntarily for the blog! You guys have really turned into a team and have done so much to widen access to Oxford Uni. It's the personal nature of your posts and the huge variety of student perspectives which make them so engaging and, over the last year, you have supported so many young people through the application process, I really can't thank you enough.
I've also developed a reward scheme in the city, where ambassadors receive goodies, giveaways and events, in return for all of their hard work. TOG has teamed up with an abundance of brands and the ambassadors have been involved in so many fun socials...Victors' launch party, Pho dining experience, Space NK beauty evening, Wagamama private dining, and lovely termly meetups at The Handle Bar Cafe to name but a few.
This year TOG has collaborated with more and more colleges, University departments and access organisations:
* Filmed a Facebook Live for the Admissions Team
* Filmed a Q&A for Oxford Alumni
* Produced a podcast with Oxford Alumni
* Worked with Jesus, LMH, New, Hertford and Balliol sharing the TOG resource at the Oxford open days
* Collaborated with IT services
* Spoke at the Seren Summer School
* Covered #startedinoxford
* Oxford Women Speak Out
* #presidentsofcolour campaign
* Oxford Muslim Access Conference
* Oxpaksoc Access Conference
* BBC - filmed a documentary with the TOG student ambassador team
* Target Oxbridge
* School's Plus
* The Oxford Hub
In the summer when you guys received your A Level results, it became clear just what an impact TOG was making - I couldn't believe how many of you got in to Oxford Uni and your messages about how TOG had supported you through the process made all the hard work seem worth it. TOG has really grown in the last few months; the Instagram now has over 27k followers and the blog has had over 350,000 views!
On a personal note, 2018 was the year I was offered a publishing deal and on 6th December you turned up in your hundreds to Blackwell's Oxford, to celebrate the launch of the 'That Oxford Girl' book. Writing a book isn't easy and certainly not one about one of the top universities in the world, made up of 38 colleges and 6 halls who all do things differently but you know what, it was worth it. I tried to produce a book that was different to the linear, factual books out there, instead creating a quirky guide to life behind the college walls, from a student perspective. The book is colourful, fun and lighthearted and filled with beautiful photos of the uni and city and holding it in my hands was the best feeling ever. It's crazy to think a few years ago I was going into Blackwell's to buy books for my course and now MY OWN BOOK is stocked there!
So, what's next for TOG?
What started off as a little stop-gap on my CV when I was on the chemotherapy (My Story) has developed into a powerful FREE access resource, encouraging young people from ALL backgrounds to consider Oxford Uni as an option. TOG is making an impact and it is now far too valuable a resource for young people, to simply walk away from.
It's widening access and participation, increasing social mobility and raising aspirations to higher education. By engaging with young people through social media, TOG is bringing access into 21st century. The testimonials speak for themselves; this is a formula that is working.
The blog and Instagram will always remain FREE. However, I have done all of this as one person with no funding and it has now turned into more than a full-time job.
In order to keep TOG going and to keep developing it, I'm now searching for funding/sponsorship. So, 2019 is all about sourcing that funding so we can keep supporting more and more young people (if any of you have any thoughts on this, please do get in touch!).
A huge thank you to all of my amazing followers for joining me on this TOG journey, as well as my incredible team of student ambassadors and fantastic photographer Olly Wood.
I really hope 2019 is a wonderful year for you all!
Happy New Year!