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Celebrating 10 years of Pembroke Access: My story by Imogen Runswick-Cole

28th May 2019

Following the tenth anniversary of the Pembroke Access Programme in Michaelmas 2018, and the subsequent anniversary dinner hosted in Hilary 2019, here at Pembroke we continue to mark this significant milestone into Trinity. This term, we are celebrating the stories of some of the students that took part in Pembroke’s Access Programme, and that came on to study at Pembroke after their A levels.

Over the coming weeks we will be catching up with a selection of students, both past and present, to hear in their own words, about their experiences, and the impact the programme has had on their lives.

To launch the series, we caught up with Imogen Runswick-Cole, who came to Pembroke after taking part in the Theology programme with Pembroke North in 2015. Imogen reflects on how the Theology Programme drastically changed her perceptions of Oxford.

“The programme was mentioned to me in my sixth form RS class, I didn’t know anything about Oxford or Pembroke, the programme was free and looked engaging. I didn’t 100% know what I wanted to do at university, so the programme seemed to offer an insight into what a theology degree actually was.

I only did the summer school part of the course. I covered Buddhism which was really interesting as I had never done studied it before in school, and I enjoyed learning about something different. I definitely found it hard to engage with a bulk of reading material, but enjoyed the challenge. I was required to use a lot of skills I did not have to use in my A level studies.

The programme functioned as a key motivating factor throughout my final year at sixth form. Every time I doubted myself I remembered my time on the programme and used that as motivation to press on. I believe that this work is of paramount importance, I believe that it not only allows for increased access to Oxford but increased access to higher education in general. I cannot thank the Programme enough for projects like this.

It changed everything about my perception of Oxford. Without it I would never have applied to Pembroke, and I probably wouldn’t have applied to Oxford. The programme is essential for those who do not have access to a wealth of information about Oxford, or Russell Group Universities. Without the programme, I would never have had the confidence to apply to Oxford. That is how important the programme is, it can change entire trajectories.”

Imogen subsequently applied to Oxford and successfully secured a place at Pembroke to study Theology and Religion, and is now currently in her third and final year here. She is interested in pursuing her studies to postgraduate level.

Imogen Runswick-Cole
Imogen Runswick-Cole