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The Corporation

Posted: 23/04/19

Nikita’s taste of Cambridge life

An A Level student from West Nottinghamshire College has enjoyed an inspirational residential visit to the oldest colleges at the University of Cambridge.

The historic Peterhouse College at the University of Cambridge. Inset - A Level student Nikita Joharchi

Nineteen-year-old Nikita Joharchi, from Mansfield, is currently studying English literature, film studies and psychology at the college on Derby Road with the ambition of studying a degree in English literature at one of Cambridge’s prestigious and historic colleges.

She has just returned from a three-day residential visit of Peterhouse College – the oldest of the Cambridge colleges, founded by the Bishop of Ely in 1284. The visit follows her successful application to The Access Project, an organisation which works with students who have the ability to get into top universities and come from backgrounds which are under-represented at top universities.

The project works with 28 schools and colleges, supporting students across London, Birmingham and the Black Country and the East Midlands towns of Ashfield, Mansfield and Shirebrook.

Nikita said: “Part of the application process asked you to express your future study goals as well as writing about a particular challenge you’d overcome. I described a health issue which I live with, but I still manage this as well as being a successful and hard-working student. I didn’t expect to get picked, so I was very shocked when I got an email inviting me to Peterhouse College.”

Nikita spent her first day in Cambridge with fellow visiting students touring the college and its accommodation, seeing the grounds and the library facilities. She enjoyed the ice breaker sessions designed to allow the group of 40 to get to know each other.

On day two, Nikita and fellow students were split into tailored sessions – Nikita’s being an English literature-based one, focussing on the Shakespeare classic Romeo and Juliet. The group shared ideas about a passage from the text and then enjoyed a tour of nearby St Catharine’s College.

Nikita said: “On our last day we put our ideas together about some work we had been set prior to the residential, where we interpreted a poem by John Donne called the Triple Fool as well as analysing two famous letters by William Blake and Oscar Wilde. I really enjoyed hearing other students’ interpretations and input.

Nikita, who has visited Cambridge’s Newnham College recently, said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the visit and it’s given me another inspirational look at life at Cambridge. I’d like to study at Newham College, as I fell in love with it on a visit earlier this year.”

The group also benefitted from learning how to craft a personal statement. They were able to see examples of how to put together a written piece for applying for Oxford or Cambridge universities. The workshop was followed by punting on the River Cam, dinner and visiting the Cambridge University Press and second hand book stalls.

Academic studies curriculum manager at the college, Matt Ridgill said: “We always encourage our A Level students to step outside of their comfort zone and look at applying for leading universities. I know Nikita’s predicted to achieve three A star grades when she completes her A Levels in 2020, so her tutors are very confident in her abilities.”

Nikita added: “It’s great that my tutors feel that I can achieve as I’d need A* and two A grades to access Newnham College. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be too disappointed if I didn’t get into Cambridge, as I also like the sound of Leeds or York for cities to study in. I’d eventually like to do a masters in English followed by a PhD.”