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600th Anniversary Campaign Dinner

Speech by Pamela Forbes – fourth year Classical Studies at the University of St Andrews 600th Anniversary Appeal Dinner at Middle Temple Hall, London.

Your Royal Highnesses, Chancellor, Principal, my lords, ladies and gentlemen

My name is Pamela Forbes and I am currently a fourth year student studying Classical Studies at the University of St Andrews.

Thank you for inviting me to such a great event. This is my first time in London!

I just wanted to start off by telling you a little bit about myself and my background.

I was born and raised in a town named Kirkcaldy in Fife, Scotland. I went to my local high school which had quite a low progression into higher education. I did well at my classes but didn’t really ever consider going to university because I would be the first in my family to attend.

In my third year at high school, I was selected to participate in a project named Working Together To Improve which was run by the University of St Andrews. I was asked to write a 3000 word essay and do a powerpoint presentation on a topic of my choice. We were given the opportunity to go to St Andrews (which I had also never visited before, even though it was so close to my home!), and to chat to students and staff at the university whom I stayed in touch with. The project gave me an insight into university life as well as boosting my confidence in myself and my own academic skills.

By completing the project, I then knew that I had the potential, and most importantly, I now had the drive and support in place to apply to competitive universities. I also knew from that point onwards that St Andrews was the university I wanted to attend!

With my goals in mind I acquired the entrance grades and was accepted into St Andrews. I can’t think of anything that was more exciting, but terrifying at the same time. Even though St Andrews was my local university, it was still a huge step for me to move away from home to such a multinational institution.

Attending university in St Andrews has allowed me to broaden my knowledge in so many areas, from my coursework in Classical Studies through to project management and fundraising. And of course, has given me the confidence to speak publically! I truly believe that I would not be the motivated person I am today if I did not have the opportunities to learn and grow in such a friendly and stimulating environment which St Andrews has given me. My ambitions have grown… When I once said in high school that I wanted to be a travel rep, I would now aim to be the head of marketing or communications for that company!

Although I have had a few obstacles to overcome along the way, my four years at St Andrews have been the best experience of my life. Knowing how hard I worked to get to where I am now makes me extremely proud of everything I have achieved! I have said yes to so many exciting opportunities along the way. This has included taking part in the yearly ‘Race to’ event the charity committee at St Andrews holds. I hitchhiked my way from Edinburgh to Munich almost two years ago and managed to raise £650 for charity in the process.

From my first year at the university I have also been a student ambassador, and in this role have helped on school projects, visiting days, and major events like the Antiques Roadshow! Last year I was chosen to become Vice Principal Ambassador for Widening Participation. I now help organise and run school projects in the local area – including the one I had taken part in when I was at school.

In my role as Vice Principal Ambassador, I also coordinate fundraising events to raise money to create a scholarship for an incoming student. With finance being one of my fears in applying to university, and the ease that came over my mind when I was granted a yearly scholarship, I know how important these donations can be in allowing great people to attend St Andrews.

My scholarship has allowed me to fully immerse myself in university life and given me the confidence to say yes to opportunities.. My scholarship has definitely broken down barriers for me and I feel that investing in scholarships generates a full circle of benefits. You see great people gaining access to competitive universities where they may not have without your help, and these people often contribute to university life at a later date, as I have hopefully shown I have done.

My decision to apply and go to St Andrews was the best decision I have ever made and I have never looked back.

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