Hi, I’m Zoe, and I have just finished my undergraduate degree in biochemistry. I grew up in London and attended an all-girls state school before coming to Imperial. I was in receipt of a school bursary during sixth-form and as an undergrad, I was in receipt of the full Imperial bursary. I’m just about to start my master’s degree at Imperial in Applied Genomics, and I look forward to the new opportunities that come with it!

What motivated you to go to university and why did you choose Imperial?

I was fortunate to have some really helpful teachers during sixth form, who encouraged me to apply to Imperial. They gave me the confidence to accept my offer, even though I was a bit hesitant at first because nobody from the older years in my school had studied here. I knew that Imperial had a really strong life sciences department, and I was interested in the research by some of the teaching fellows. Finances were also another big thing for me. I was lucky enough to get the Department of Life Sciences Undergraduate Scholarship for Biochemistry, alongside the Imperial Bursary, which really alleviated some of the financial stresses as a student. 

What do you wish you had known when you first started university?

I would definitely tell my first-year self to not compare myself to other people. University is completely different to A-levels and it might take you a bit longer to understand some things than other people – and that’s okay! Your learning style adapts over the three years, and you will become much more confident in understanding research papers with more practice, so don’t get disheartened if it takes you a while at first! 

What were the highlights of your university experience?

I found that there were many opportunities available for WP students. In my first year, I did a summer exchange to Tsinghua University in China, which was funded by Imperial. Travelling abroad and making new friends boosted my confidence a lot, and I would really recommend students to look at the opportunities advertised by the college. I was also part of two society committees, and at the end of my degree, I was a Student Shaper on a project for improving the experiences of WP students. All these things helped me to feel more integrated into the college community and made me want to stay on for my MSc.

How has your background helped you?

My background has helped me in my resilience during university, and in gaining confidence both academically and socially. Being open about my background has also helped me to make loads of new friends and helped me realise that I wasn’t the only WP student in my cohort!

My background has also helped me to make the most of every opportunity that comes my way, and to be comfortable in stepping out of my comfort zone. Getting into Imperial and dealing with challenges and setbacks during my degree, have definitely made me more resilient!

Zoe Stamoulis