SOAMS testimony Student A - Male I am a local student originally from Chesterfield, a town just outside of the city of Sheffield. Very few people in my secondary school went onto higher education. And as far as I am aware I am the only person from my year that went onto study medicine. I was initially apprehensive as I didn’t know much about university and my parents had fears regarding the financial implications. I was reluctant to engage with the idea that I was intelligent enough to enter a career in medicine and was scared by the preconception that university was full of “higher” class students. In Year 9 I was achieving highly in many subjects but had little confidence in my ability to enter into higher education. Everyone around me was starting work or going to college and it was very difficult for me to think about university and ‘go against the tide’. My science teacher and head of year had both received news about SOAMS and I was called to a meeting where they provided me with information about the scheme and asked if I would like to apply. I knew I now had the chance to really push myself and I completed the entire SOAMS course from Year 9 to Year 13 (5 years in total). The day visits to the University were invaluable and helped me to become familiarised with the University and what it truly meant to be a student. It helped shed a lot of the misconceptions I had of university life. I was overwhelmed by the sheer size of the University and the number of different departments. The SOAMS science based activities were also very informative and engaging. It was fantastic and really helped me think ‘science is definitely for me’. SOAMS kept me motivated in my studies knowing I had a helping hand into higher education. The summer school in Year 12 was great and the experience we gained from shadowing professionals on a real ward provided us with invaluable experience. Suddenly I was being thrown into the clinical world and could finally see the skills we had been learning translate into real medicine! To enhance our communication and presentation skills we were given practice interview and feedback sessions which were really helpful in our applications to different medical schools. The finance sessions were also essential in allowing my parents and I get to grips with loans, bursaries and grants that I could apply for before university. It was a great way to link my family into the scheme and keep them informed about the entire process. I think it was a big relief to my family knowing they could support me in my ambitions. SOAMS is definitely held in high regard by my family as it acts as a doorway to a better career and a better life. I think the most important factor that kept me with SOAMS was the knowledge that I had a real chance of reaching university with an interview for all selected students who had completed the scheme. However, SOAMS is not an ‘easy way’ for young people to enter university and I am quick to remind people about the grades that are still needed to gain entry to medical school. I also emphasise that places that are not ‘stolen’ from other deserving applicants but are gained on personal merit and achievement. After completing SOAMS I now encourage others to consider higher education and I have been asked to go back to my old school to provide information about medical school, interviewing techniques and support with UCAS applications. In addition I have also become a mentor for SOAMS and a student I was recently working with has just been accepted to medical school! I’ve made great friends at university and it now feels like a second home to me. My family is close enough to visit regularly and the city has lots of different things to offer, a fantastic student union with amazing bars, clubs, activities and more! I feel very privileged that I have entered medicine. I enjoy my course and I am constantly learning about new diseases and treatments. Medicine continues to be the right choice for me. In the future I will continue to be an advocate for widening access and participation in medicine. I have worked with many of the staff at the university and it is great to see their dedicated efforts materialising in students just like me.