There are some letters you remember forever

I'd like to share with you a letter that changed my life

Dear Makeen,  

It is with great pleasure that I am writing to inform you that you have been successful in your application for an Undergraduate Widening Participation Scholarship with the University of Leeds.  

You were one of over 1,000 students who applied for 205 scholarships this year. Having read your application, I am proud that we are able to support you in your ambition to come to Leeds and study Medicine and Surgery.  

While your hard work got you to Leeds, I hope that this scholarship provides you with the financial security to help you make the most of every opportunity here. From going on field trips or conferences to support your studies, to taking part in societies and volunteering – your scholarship is there to help level the playing field and allow you to enjoy the same experiences as every other student at Leeds.  

This award isn’t just financial – it provides recipients with access to the Plus Programme, which supports students from under-represented backgrounds by offering social events and extra funding opportunities. The Plus Programme is designed to help ease the transition into Leeds, support you to succeed on your course and then enable you to go on to great things when you leave us.  

Your scholarship is entirely funded by donations made by a community of alumni and supporters of the University. Though you may never meet any of the hundreds of people who directly funded your scholarship, I hope knowing that they and I believe in you and your potential provides you with much confidence and belief for the years ahead. 

I wish you the best of luck in your studies and we look forward to seeing you thrive at Leeds.  

Yours sincerely  

Louise Banahene  

Director of Educational Engagement  

My journey to Leeds

"I’ll never forget the day that I was awarded a scholarship. It was life-changing and put me a step closer to my dream of being a doctor"

Makeen Baroudi  

Medicine and Surgery, Second Year. 

Dear Friend,

I can’t express how grateful I am for your support of students, like me.

I feel the impact of your generosity every single day – in the sense of the financial security and incredible wellbeing it provides me.   

I was born in Syria and in 2015 came over to the UK with my family, to escape the violence of the civil war, with the hope of forging a new future for ourselves.  

I was a frightened 14 year old when we arrived in England and didn’t speak much English. I felt nervous about starting a new school the year before my GCSEs all while having to adapt to a new culture, new language and new surroundings. It was a steep learning curve but, thankfully, I had amazing support from my parents, teachers and local community, and with a lot of hard work I thrived – picking up the language quickly and getting all As in my A levels.  

From the moment I visited Leeds, I knew I wanted to study here. It wasn’t just the state-of-the-art facilities or the welcoming feel on campus that made me want to pick this University, but also the course and how it’s structured. Leeds offers lots of hands-on experience, which helps me to develop the skills I need to support my future patients. While COVID-19 has limited this, it has only strengthened my resolve that I want to become a doctor to help people when they need it most.  

Growing up in the middle of a civil war, I learned quickly that doctors are the real heroes in this world. I remember the medics running in after a disaster to save the lives of so many people with little consideration for their own safety.

It’s that memory that inspires me to make the most of every opportunity I am offered so I can make my own impact in the world. 

That’s why my scholarship means everything to me and why I am so incredibly grateful for your support. You have helped me to follow in the footsteps of the doctors I witnessed as a child.  

In Syria we never went out after dark because it wasn’t safe – and it’s still something that I don’t really like to do. My scholarship means I can afford to rent a house close to the University campus so I don’t have to walk far from lectures which can finish after dark in winter. It also means I have spare money to get a taxi if I need to leave the house when it’s late.  

Thanks to your support, I don’t have to take on a lot of additional paid work alongside my studies and can get more involved with societies and extracurricular activities related to my course. With COVID-19 restricting our ability to be in contact with patients and have face-to-face teaching, my scholarship also allows me to afford resources and books which help me study remotely.  

To put it simply, your generosity allows me to pour all my energy into getting the most out of my time at Leeds, becoming the best doctor I can be.

I believe that the minimum I can do to repay your kindness is to excel at my course and use it as a stepping stone for a brilliant future for myself, and to develop skills to make a real difference to people’s lives.  

I see my life being full of incredible moments which brought me to where I am now, and the day I got my scholarship is amongst them.

Thank you so very much.  


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