Lucky? University success is about self-motivation

A former student from ARK’s Walworth Academy has gone back to school to talk about his experience of getting into one of Britain’s top universities in order to inspire others. Ambitious year 12 and 13 students from Walworth Academy in Shorncliffe Road, Southwark, listened intently as Lucky Osaro, aged 20, talked about how the Reuben Scholarship helped make a difference to his life at University of Surrey where he is studying civil engineering.

Lucky, who grew up with his older sister in Peckham, has shown real resilience and determination, after his mother passed away just a few weeks before his A level exams.  He got an A* an A and a B in his A levels.

The Reuben Foundation kindly offers two bursaries per year worth £10,000 for each year of university study.  The bursaries are awarded to outstanding students in ARK sixth forms who have an offer of a place from a top UK university and who make a successful application for support. The bursaries support university accommodation and subsistence. Lucky is keen to become an engineer and has already completed a work experience placement with Crossrail. 

Lucky joined members of the ARK team at a bursary application event.  He shared his experience of being a successful applicant, coached them in what they needed to consider and spoke about how his scholarship has helped him progress at university. 

Lucky told students: “Life at university is very different from school or college.  The responsibility is on you – not teachers or family telling you where to be and when to revise so you have to be self-motivated and organise yourself.

Freedom to learn

“The biggest change is the freedom to learn. At university there are so many more exciting ways to learn outside of your academic subject such as trips and activities to get involved in. One day you can go to Cambridge University and another to Scotland for the day to learn or be inspired.

“I’m very proud of becoming a student ambassador for the university, as this can be difficult for first year students to achieve.  It involves representing the university and meeting and speaking to prospective students and advising why they should apply for a place.  I’ve been given a great opportunity in life, and doing this, I feel like I am giving something back.

Building relationships and bridges

 “My university has students from all over the world and all backgrounds including private and grammar schools.  It’s a real mix but we all get to learn from each other and about different cultures and circumstances. 

“One of the biggest areas that the scholarship has helped me with is removing the financial worry and letting me focus on my studying.  Otherwise I would be working long hours and trying to study at the same time.  It has also helped me fit in and build relationships with other students who are financially stable.  I’ve been able to socialise and interact with different people, feel comfortable and settle in.  The scholarship has already helped with my studies because I was able to buy a laptop and design software. For instance, one of my assignments has been to design and construct a bridge. I would have struggled without the equipment I needed.

Like a dream come true

“Going to university is going to have a big impact on your future career path and it opens up a whole new world.  My goal hasn’t changed.  When I’m qualified, I want to work in developing countries to help improve their infrastructure and improve lives.  While studying, I’m networking and looking for opportunities with UK companies that I can gain experience with during the summer and after my second year I would like to get work experience abroad.

“I remember the day I found out I got my scholarship. It was a Wednesday morning and I was walking to college and got a phone call, I couldn’t believe it – it was like a dream come true.”

Walworth Academy is part of the ARK network of high performing academies which also includes ARK Globe Academy in Elephant and Castle and Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton. ARK’s aim is to ensure that all pupils leave school with the ability to go to university or pursue their career of choice. 

Ofsted has rated Walworth Academy as being “a good school with outstanding capacity to improve” and GCSE results have more than doubled since becoming an ARK academy in 2007.

The Reuben Scholarship is one of a number of ARK Schools bursary programmes.