Hi! My name is Grace Fisher, and I’m a Working-Class, First-Generation student at Imperial. I come from a low-income background, and hence I am eligible for Imperial’s maximum bursary. My mum is a teaching assistant and my dad is a school chef. I’m currently studying Biology, hoping to pursue post-graduate medicine – struggling from both Bipolar and Borderline Personality Disorder, I wasn’t in the mental space I needed to go straight into Medicine, hence doing Biology first! I enjoy anything related to disease and public health, especially neglected tropical diseases and anything virology based!
What made you apply to Imperial for university?
I’ve always been incredibly intrigued with how the natural world functioned, always wanting to be able to explain as many scientific concepts as I could learn about. I am such a HUGE animal lover too, and most of interests have a biological focus. I decided on Imperial because of the massive module range. Most other universities seemed to have either an animal or plant stream, but with Imperial everything was so interlinked (or covered all bases i.e. genetics, applied molecular biology) which I thought was perfect. I actually never wanted to go to a London university, and the first time I actually went to London was for the Imperial open day! I couldn’t really afford to go to a lot of open days, and my parents were too busy to take me so luckily my partners family took us to have a look round. I knew Imperial had a good reputation, and once I’d gone there I really liked the look of the campus, and the fact that it was STEM only. The idea that I’m essentially no less than 100m at all times on campus to someone who’s contributed hugely to their field was really cool. With the £5000 bursary it also meant I could actually live comfortably in London, whilst also saving for my post-graduate medical degree (where you get such small loans). I’d always wanted to try pole fitness too, so the fact that Imperial had a pole&aerial society really was a great add-on.
What advice would you give to WP students at Imperial?
My main pieces of advice are to
- Never be ashamed of your background – I know coming to Imperial can totally alienate you, but being true to yourself and your background will help so many more people in the long run, as well as yourself. Don’t try and fit to a mould that you think Imperial expects you to be.
- Never feel ashamed to ask for help academically, emotionally, financially etc.
I must be a well-known name in all these departments! I’ve sought help from all of them, and they’ve all been amazing and understanding. At first I was kind of embarrassed to ask for help, but I’ve learned that in the long run asking is better than sitting in worry.
What are the highlights of your university experience so far?
- Setting up the Working-Class Network – best thing I’ve ever done. You can find us at @icworkingclassnetwork on Instagram and @iclworkingclassnetwork on Facebook.
- Getting the mental health support.
- Meeting some great friends after a lot of struggles with making them in the past.
- Learning to be open and proud about my background, mental health and physical health.
- Making good relationships with a few of the department staff, always handy!
- Getting my learning disabilities diagnosed after a long fight to do so in my previous schools.
- Getting into university!
How did you background help you at university?
My experience as a WP student drove my desire to be the first Working-Class Officer, and to run for a second term too! I really want to drive the message home about being proud of your background and all the challenges you’ve overcome as a WP student. Social mobility work is a true passion of mine, and I plan to continue with it as long as I can.
Being WP has also made me mentally stronger. Being WCO, its helped me realise that I can’t please everyone – something I’d been trying to do for so long.