Bursaries - Testimonials

Katey Cook, St Mary's Calne Student 2009-2011

Katey CookIn 2009 I was given the incredible opportunity of attending St Mary's Calne for the duration of my Sixth Form Education. I come from a family with three younger siblings as well as foster siblings on the occasion, and the option of attending a school such as Calne was, despite both of my parents working full time, not possible with such a large family to care for. I thoroughly enjoyed my secondary education, having attended a mixed state school up until the age of sixteen and leaving with eleven GCSEs - seven A*s, one A, two Bs and a C. It is during this time that I developed a particular love for music and dedicated a substantial amount of time to playing the trumpet and singing with the school Jazz Band.

I must admit that upon applying for a scholarship to attend St Mary's I felt a little apprehensive, since boarding was so different to anything I had done before. However, as soon as I visited it was clear to me that I wanted nothing more than to be a part of the whole experience, family and establishment that is St Mary's Calne. I was correct in my assumption that it was nothing like anything I had done before. I can genuinely say that, even having completed University, my two years at Calne were the best of my life so far.

Aside from making life-long friends, I was given opportunities that would have otherwise been completely unavailable to me. I particularly immersed myself in the music side of St Mary's, playing with the Orchestra, Jazz Band, Sixth Form Choir and Concert Musicians, and received invaluable tuition and advice when it came to classical and theory sides of music - something that small classes allow for, in stark contrast to the larger music classes at my previous schools. I also fondly remember having the opportunity to sing for Sir Tim Rice in London - again, an opportunity that would otherwise have not been open to me were it not for the gift that was my scholarship to attend St Mary's.

I also obtained a confidence that was certainly invaluable when it came to applying for a place at University, as well as in interviews for internships and jobs since. At St Mary's we were, as Sixth Formers, encouraged to take a leadership role within school life both through becoming prefects (I was Deputy Head of Chapel) and through leading prospective parents on tours of the school. We were also prepared for university interviews within class, and received tailored interview tips on DVD for future reference. This is further testament to how St Mary's provided me with a skill set that would perhaps not have been accessible were I to not have received a bursary.

Since leaving Calne I have gone on to complete a degree at the University of Birmingham whilst working for myself alongside my degree. I have set up an art business advertising my work and selling commissions, something that I would not have been confident enough to do were it not for the time and effort invested in me from teachers who would, on occasion, work with me until late evening to help where needed! I also work as a nanny, youth worker and tutor  within the Swindon area. I do, of course, still make time for my music, gigging and teaching in my spare time.

I cannot stress enough how invaluable the gift of completing my Sixth Form education at St Mary's has been. I believe that because of my time at Calne I have grown to be a confident, well rounded young woman who strives to be the very best that I can be - wherever that may lead in future.

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