Interview with CTK student Temi who achieved AAA* and is now studying at Cambridge University.
Temi says that her last-minute decision to join CTK has really paid off – after being inspired to apply to Cambridge University and being awarded a CTK £15,000 scholarship.
Temi had originally planned to join her school sixth form along with her friends. However, on GCSE results day she was told that her school was unable to offer her the A Level subject combination she wanted, due to timetabling issues.
She explains: “Although I had planned to stay on at school sixth form, I had done some research into other options and I liked the fact that Christ the King was an independent sixth form – that the whole college – all the teaching, resources and support, was focused on year 12s and 13s.”
Making friends easily
Temi enrolled at CTK to study A Levels in Media, Sociology and English Literature. She was a little nervous as she knew she wouldn’t know anyone there, and it also meant a one-hour journey to and from college from her home on the Greenwich/Plumstead border. However, she says the fact that no one knew each other helped her settle in and make new friendships easily.
She says: “I have made a lot of good friends. There were quite a lot of us who hadn’t joined the college in existing friendship groups – everyone went in feeling the same way. We were all in the same situation and so no one felt excluded. One of the best things has been being part of the Scholarship Graduate Programme (SGP) – which is for students with good GCSE results. It was a great way for me to meet other people who were also ambitious and motivated – we all wanted to stay working on our EPQ til 5pm! It was easy to bond with other people who were just as excited about their studies.”
Inspiration to apply to Oxbridge
“When I started CTK, applying to Oxford or Cambridge was something that I had thought about but I just didn’t feel like it was within my reach. On enrolment day, I was told straight away that because of my GCSE results, applying to Oxbridge was something I could look at. I brushed it aside. It didn’t feel achievable.
The moment that changed everything was when I attended an alumni evening for SGP students. It gave me the amazing opportunity to speak to past CTK students who had progressed to Oxford and Cambridge. That was the moment I realised it was something I really wanted to do and something I could achieve if I wanted to. It changed my whole mindset.
From there I went on arranged college visits to both Oxford and Cambridge which inspired me further. On the coach back from Oxford, I got talking to one of my teachers, Miss Nadori about Anthropology. Having that conversation with her made me realise how much more there is to studying as opposed to just studying to get a job. I felt taken seriously as a peer as well as a pupil.
Another key point in my journey was a summer session with two Oxford and Cambridge students. They took me through the application process – how you choose your college and accommodation, and how to write an amazing personal statement. I took so much from that session and so much from the advice from those young ladies. If I hadn’t gone to that session I probably wouldn’t have applied. They both came from state schools – so hearing from them what you can do to stand out and how it feels going in as someone from a state school was just what I needed. It felt like I could identify with them and I felt reassured that I would fit in.
I also received an awful lot of support from Miss Brack, my English teacher and form tutor, Mr Peak, the careers advisor, Miss Nadori and Mr Pearson. One of the great things about CTK is that because it is a group of three sixth forms, I benefited from support from staff across all 3 sites.
I was also part of a booster programme led by Mr Pearson. It was one of the best programmes I have ever been part of and focused on writing my CV, job applications and making yourself as appealing as possible on paper. I used those lessons in my application to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
Broadening my experience with enrichment activities
Obviously, my time at CTK was very busy because of my academic work, extension activities like the EPQ and I was so invested in the Cambridge application process. Even so, I did netball and boxing as extra-curricular activities when I was able to. Both were brilliant, I learned a lot about exercise from my boxing coach and met some great friends and competed in tournaments with the netball team.
Since I found out that I received an offer from Cambridge I had been looking for a scholarship because I don’t necessarily come from a family with a lot of money and didn’t want to put too much strain on my mum. Mr Pearson and Miss Crampton nominated me for CTK’s Metric Capital Scholarship scheme, which gives 3 students scholarships of £15,000 towards their cost of living while at university.
To apply, I had to write no more than 500 words on why I felt I deserved the scholarship and any obstacles that I overcame. This got me thinking about something that held me back for a very long time. I opened up more and really dug into all the health issues that I experienced growing up and how it made me really limit the way I saw myself. My health issues were what led to me discovering a love of reading, and also made me realise that I could write my own stories.
I was interviewed by the man who founded the scholarship scheme – John Sinik, together with the CTK student who he originally mentored and is now a very successful lawyer in the city. Together, they set up this scholarship scheme five years ago.
John is a great, kind man and it was an honour to be interviewed by someone so successful with a master’s from Harvard University, who came from a background that wasn’t affluent too. It was an enjoyable opportunity for me to really open up about what I had experienced and how it strengthened my view and understanding of education and what it is worth.
My love of books and my inspiration
When I was younger, I suffered from this thing called the Atopic Triangle, which is a rare combination of allergies – asthma, eczema, food allergies, and allergies to other things like dust and grass.
For many years I had felt controlled by my medications and not in control of my own body. Discovering drama, music and dance changed that. And then I read an online novel called ‘Becoming Beautiful’ written by a teenage girl. This book honestly changed my life. It made me realise how amazing a book can be.
Before then, I felt like I was drowning and there was no way out for me. When I read this book, I had never felt so understood. That’s why I’m so interested in all the words we use, especially what is going on right now – how damaging words can be – and how much of an impact words can have over others. It’s why I want to study English Literature at Cambridge!
I am also very grateful because I have an amazing mum and two older sisters who are inspirational to me. My mum pulled me up through every situation and continues to be the most inspirational figure in my life. She moved here from Nigeria with my dad to give me and my older sisters a better life. No matter what happened to her – what she went through, she always faces things with a kind smile. I try to take on her approach as best I can and that has inspired me and kept me going.
My sisters learned from my mum how to face difficult situations – and seeing how hard working they are has motivated me and made me see that I can do everything I set my mind to. My ambition is to inspire other young women in the future. I want to become a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, inspiring other young people to love themselves and their culture. I would also like to start my own theatre company.”
Trevor AQUINAS Course: A Level Business, ICT and English Language and Literature
“My tutors at CTK were fundamental in my academic success. They were always approachable and willing to go the extra mile. I enjoyed taking part in extracurricular activities, including leading the sixth form band and being Director of the Business Enterprise Group, Student Governor and Student Head of Hall. ”
Justin AQUINAS Course: A Levels English Literature, Maths and Physics
“I really enjoy having access to a wide range of extra curricular activities and the student support services. My teachers have helped me with my UCAS application and the management of my work - I plan to go on to the University of Bristol or the University of Bath. I would recommend CTK due to the large support system that is available to the students. ”
Jarius AQUINAS Course: A Level Psychology B, Sociology A, Geography
“I joined CTK Aquinas knowing that I wanted to study at a Russell Group university. I am currently studying a degree in BA Global Health and Social Medicine at King's College, London and I hope to proceed into doing a MSc Health & Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. I would recommend CTK because the teachers are very supportive and will help you to reach your educational goals.”
Rose AQUINAS Course: A Level History A, A Level Politics A Level Sociology
“I'm going on to the University of Warwick to study Politics and International Studies. CTK was a great environment for me to learn. I've really enjoyed the teaching, all my teachers have been encouraging and supportive. They put in the extra time to help with workshops and revision to ensure we did well.”
Harrison AQUINAS Course: A Level Economics A, A Level Maths, A Level Further Maths
“What I enjoyed most about CTK was being able to meet other like-minded motivated people. CTK is a great environment to develop yourself, as you are surrounded by motivated peers and lectures who strive to get the most out of you. I achieved my grades and went on to study Maths at UCL.”