Nadia Mahmoud (U19) is a second year History student at Churchill. She grew up in West London where she attended a non-selective state school. She was attracted by the diverse nature of the history course offered at Cambridge and hugely values the opportunity it provided to study a wide range of different periods from ancient, medieval to early modern history.

Nadia receives a full Cambridge Bursary and a Winston Churchill Top-Up Bursary, without which she would have struggled financially due to her family circumstances.

If I had not received the bursary support, I would have experienced severe financial hardships at Churchill. Since there are complex health issues within my family, I would have been unable to rely on my parents for financial support. Meanwhile, the intense academic pace at Cambridge would have made a part-time job very difficult to sustain. In the absence of this financial support, my academics and personal welfare would therefore have suffered.

Nadia is also in no doubt about the transformational effect the support has had on her overall university experience, as it has enabled her to fully participate in all that Cambridge has to offer.

Without the bursary support I would not have been able to enjoy formal dinners with friends, obtain membership for the Cambridge Union where I have attended thought-provoking speaker events and debates, or even simply purchase College merchandise which has helped me feel well-established in the Churchill community, and fuelled community spirit. At Cambridge I am obtaining so much more than a degree, and I am grateful for the opportunity to experience that.

Nadia also faced some hardship during the lockdown period due to the severe health problems within her family and she was especially thankful for the bursary funding she continued to receive during this time, as the financial security alleviated a great deal of stress.

There are an abundance of things that Nadia loves about Churchill, from the ‘vast expanse of greenery on which the College is located, to the boundless friendliness and support of all the staff’ but what she values most is the ability the College has provided to simply be herself.

What I love most about the College is that to be a Churchill student there is no mould one has to fit – you can be who you really are, and that is truly the most liberating thing.

In her spare time Nadia enjoys socialising with friends, reading crime fiction and listening to interview podcasts. She has also participated in an outreach programme to lead tours of students from UK state schools around the College. She felt very proud to represent Churchill and its values surrounding social mobility and also valued the opportunity to demonstrate to students who may have come from backgrounds similar to her own, that there was a place for them at Cambridge too.

Nadia continued to remain active in College life during the lockdown, which was a hugely supportive factor during this very challenging period. She entered and won a College photography competition, produced a video for an access scheme that outlined some of her favourite aspects of the College and participated in online student Q&A sessions as part of the virtual University Open Days.

Looking ahead, Nadia is flexible about her career options but is hoping to complete an internship with the Civil Service in the summer of her second year, having been inspired by a Sixth Form talk; ‘the notion of a governmental role which enhances services for citizens is very appealing to me’. In the meantime, she is hugely grateful for the support she has received and is very much looking forward to her next three years at Churchill.

At the heart of Churchill College is a commitment to being progressive, open-minded and outward-looking, and there is nothing that better upholds this ethos than the provision of robust financial assistance for the students who really need it.