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Reach for the stars

Amy Rankine

How black holes, galaxies and the universe were created are some of the questions inspiring young women to consider a career in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

University of St Andrews astrophysics graduate, Amy Rankine, is now pursuing a PhD in astronomy at Cambridge University.

The former Buckhaven High School pupil was the first in her family to go to university after developing an interest in the subject through a First Chances project held at the school.

The First Chances Project is a partnership between the University of St Andrews, Fife Education and the Robertson Trust which aims to raise the aspirations and attainment of pupils who might not otherwise consider further or higher education.

During the project Amy chose to investigate different methods used to detect planets outside our Solar System and, by the end of it, she wanted to study at St Andrews.

She said: “My advice to any woman thinking about pursuing a degree or career in a STEM discipline would be to go ahead and do it.

“I was lucky enough to have a lot of support at home and at school, but I know this isn’t the case for everyone. Reach out to other women in your chosen field and don’t be afraid to ask about opportunities open to you.”

Amy’s former teacher at Buckhaven High School, now called Levenmouth Academy, Forbes Maginnis (Deputy Headteacher and First Chances link), said: “Amy’s successes are significant – performing at such a level as to be accepted for a PhD at Cambridge University is nothing short of amazing.

“Amy’s inspirational journey is one which should encourage other young people to become involved in the science, technology, engineering and maths fields, both in terms of academic study and indeed in looking for sustainable and successful career opportunities.”


More information on STEM.

More information on the First Chances Project.

Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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