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Queen Mary student Maria: “It was important to me to go to a university where I would feel at home.”

Maria accepted a place studying Neuroscience at Queen Mary through Clearing in 2020, after her gap year volunteering was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here, Maria opens up on the change of circumstances, studying at Queen Mary, and her advice for students entering Clearing this year.

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Students receiving results. Credit: Istock.com/Neustockimages
Students receiving results. Credit: Istock.com/Neustockimages

How did you find yourself at Queen Mary?

Like many others the pandemic completely changed my plans, although I’m very happy to have ended up where I am now! I finished my A-Levels in 2019 and took a gap year to do some volunteering, which I was having a lot of fun doing, but then Covid-19 happened.

When I was considering what to do next, Neuroscience at Queen Mary stood out. It looked perfect for me since I have been fascinated by science since I was young and more specifically by brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. I also couldn’t turn down the chance to go to a top Russell Group university. I had gone to one of the open days before and really liked the atmosphere and how it looked. And the student ambassadors I chatted to were genuinely passionate about the University.

Did you come from London or elsewhere?

I’ve lived in London my whole life. I wanted to stay in London firstly because it’s such an amazing city, but also because it’s so diverse. It was important to me to go to a university where I would feel at home, surrounded by people from all sorts of different backgrounds.  

How was the Clearing process?

It was a lot simpler and less daunting than I thought it would be. It didn’t take long at all to have my place confirmed, I just used the online chat service and since my grades were good enough, I was offered the place there and then.

There’s nothing to be worried about and the people on the other end of the phone take a lot of the stress away.

How has your time here been so far? Is there anything you’re particularly proud of?

I’ve really enjoyed it. When I started in 2020 I was worried everything would be difficult with online learning, but the lecturers were always helpful and I’ve had a great time.

I was chosen to be a course representative and won the Course Rep of the Year award at the Student Union’s Education Awards. I’m proud to have always tried to help people on my course and ensure our voices are heard, which they are. I’ve also always been quite shy, but doing this and also being a student ambassador has improved my confidence.

What advice would you give for anyone thinking about Clearing this year?

Research the courses available beforehand – look at what’s taught each year and you can hopefully get a sense of how interesting it will be for you and how it aligns to what you want to do in your career. There’s not much point applying for something which doesn’t excite you.

If you’re able to, I would also speak to people who go to the university, either people you know personally or through online platforms like Unibuddy so you can hear about their experiences and come to a more informed decision.

What would you like to do after university?

I’ve always wanted to work in academia, so I’m very glad that Clearing gave me a clear route towards that, especially at such an uncertain time with the pandemic. I’d love to be a lecturer and hopefully inspire lots of students one day. My lecturers are one of the best things about studying here and they’re great examples to follow.

More information

If you would like to hear more about Clearing or ask any questions to our current students, you can join our series of webinars designed to help navigate the journey to higher education.

Queen Mary's Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry had two lecturers awarded a National Teaching Fellowship in 2022, in recognition of their outstanding record as educators and in enhancing the student learning experience. Read more here.

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