Raising aspirations

13th November 2019

News, Alumni news

Target Oxbridge inspired two Wadham freshers to apply to Oxford. Naomi Richter (French and Arabic) and Rosa Arthur (Engineering) share their insights into this ground-breaking programme.

Target Oxbridge is a programme, part-funded by Wadham alumni, which helps students with black African and Caribbean heritage to increase their chances of getting into Oxford and Cambridge.

Naomi from Bristol and Rosa from Folkestone describe how the programme boosted their confidence, inspiring them to apply to Oxford.

  • Naomi Richter

    Naomi Richter

Naomi Richter (French and Arabic, 2019)

“I didn’t even think about Oxford until I was mid-way through Year 12 – I’d thought you had to pay more money to go. But then I did a lot of programmes that raised my aspirations,” explains Naomi.

Studying for A Levels in Spanish, French and Sociology at Colston’s Girls School in Bristol, Naomi had been considering studying Law and took part in the Oxford Pathways to Law programme. She attended a UNIQ summer school and then stayed at Wadham as part of the Target Oxbridge Easter residential.

She had heard about Target Oxbridge through a friend and applied online. Alongside her school work, Target Oxbridge provided a variety of different support programmes. “I went to talks given by Oxbridge students, people from the same backgrounds as me, which makes you feel you can get in. I went to academic sessions and one on personal statements and Target Oxbridge let me know when there were talks happening on my subject which I could attend. These sessions were often in school holidays so it didn’t interfere with my school work and the revision sessions were useful for my courses. And Target Oxbridge reimbursed my travel so I could afford to go to London for talks.”

Naomi was allocated a mentor who had studied French at Oxford, who helped prepare her for the interview process. “She would give me a French poem or a literary extract and would get my thoughts on what it’s about. I got used to explaining my thinking.” This proved to be vital experience when it came to Naomi’s interview, which she enjoyed. “For me, Target Oxbridge was the main factor in me getting in to Oxford. Everyone can get the grades but you really need support and help in getting in and raising your aspirations.”

After a gap year, travelling to Arabic speaking countries like Egypt and Morocco as well as the rest of Europe, Naomi is now living in College and getting used to what she describes as the “intense academic side.”  “But there is lots of support if you need it and a good social side too”, she laughs. She has been “pleasantly surprised” by the support she has had from second and third year members of Wadham SU – “they are genuinely happy to help!” And she has made many friends through the student Afro Caribbean Society.

Rare, designers of the Target Oxbridge programme, continue to support her with more of a career focus, letting her know of available internships, CV writing workshops and work focused programmes.

Already Naomi is planning to provide support for other Oxford candidates like herself and has volunteered to meet and greet admissions candidates and help on the UNIQ programme.

Wadham College doubled its support for Target Oxbridge in 2018 thanks to a generous donation by a Wadham alumnus. Anyone interested in supporting this programme or other elements of Wadham's access and outreach work can contact the Development team.

  • Rosa Arthur

    Rosa Arthur

Rosa Arthur, Engineering 2019

“It was great to be surrounded by high achieving back students and have the opportunity to make friends with other black female engineers at Target Oxbridge” said Rosa.

Rosa joined Wadham after studying Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry at her girl’s grammar school in Folkestone. As the only black girl in her year, it was online that she found information about Rare and Target Oxbridge and it was a combination of support from Target Oxbridge and her school maths teacher that gave her the confidence to apply to Oxford. “I was worried that it was unnecessary stress on top of my studies but my teacher and Target Oxbridge helped build my confidence as an individual.”

Oxford’s reputation as ‘the best’ attracted Rosa. Having excelled in her GCSEs and regularly been top of her class, she wanted to find a university which would present her with as many opportunities as possible.

Target Oxbridge invited her to subject-related lectures and panel discussions as well as an Easter residential at Trinity College. “The panels were made up of people like me, who had been through Target Oxbridge, and were now at Oxford and Cambridge. They helped me realise that people from backgrounds like mine can thrive in this space,” she added.

Rosa’s Target Oxbridge mentor was a recent Engineering graduate from Cambridge. “She was great. She help me with the questions I didn’t understand in my A-level work and was a source of encouragement when I was doubting my potential to achieve an A* in physics.” Rosa also benefitted from Target Oxbridge organised interview tips and a mock interview where observers could ask questions.

More than anything, Rosa appreciated the Target Oxbridge community. “It was great to be surrounded by high achieving back students and have the opportunity to make friends with other black female engineers at Target Oxbridge. Now they are spread all over and we are all in touch – some at Oxford and some not, but it was good to have people I already knew when I arrived here.”

Since arriving at Wadham Rosa has joined the University Basketball team, attends ACS events and enjoyed a recent poetry night. "It is hard to call it home but there is a great Wadham community vibe and everyone has been very has been very welcoming especially the People of Colour SU officers. And standing in front quad or the gardens you appreciate how pretty it is here.”

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