2 March 2021

Access to HE student is one step closer to achieving his dream thanks to College scholarship

Access to HE student is one step closer to achieving his dream thanks to College scholarship

East Sussex College student Ali Mohammadi has moved one step closer to his dream of becoming a doctor after gaining a place at Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Ali, who is studying Access to HE Medicine at Lewes campus, impressed during his medical school interview. He achieved one of the highest scores on the day, earning him a call back within three hours to offer him a place on the Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery (BM BS) degree.

It was a very happy and emotional afternoon for the aspiring doctor. Ali said, “I couldn’t believe it. I started to cry! Receiving an offer in just three hours means a lot to me. They told me that I had the highest score out of all of the people they interviewed that day and that I was the first person they called. I was so happy, and it was an emotional moment for me.”

Ali’s achievement is made even more impressive, considering he has only been living in the UK for four years and learnt English himself.

Ali said, “Coming from a refugee background, I had to learn English by myself and had to work really hard to apply for medical school in the UK. Four years ago, I moved to the UK, and I couldn’t imagine that one day I would be offered a place to study medicine at university.

Since I was a child, I’ve dreamed of becoming a doctor. My mother is a radiologist and used to take me to work with her in the hospital. That is where I realised that I wanted a career where I could help improve people’s lives.”

Ali will start his degree in September, but his route to medical school would have been different had he not been awarded a scholarship from East Sussex College to study the Access course.

Access to Higher Education courses prepare students to study at university. Most students are able to apply for loans to cover the cost of the course. However, Ali was unable to apply for the loan, and his own fundraising efforts weren’t enough to cover the course fees.

Ali continued, “Last June, I applied for the course and did all my entry assessments. I then got invited to the interview. At this point, I started to do some fundraising so I could pay for the course. During my interview for the course, I explained my dream of becoming a doctor, but I might not be able to raise enough money to pay for the course.

“I live in the UK with my brother, but don't have any other family here to support me. It would have been really sad to miss out on the course because of the financial barrier. But the same evening, Hayley, the Head of Access to HE in Lewes, went home thinking about ways to help me get onto the course. She sent an email to the College CEO to ask if there was anything the College could do to help me.

“I had an email a couple of days later from Hayley telling me that the College would like to award me with a scholarship, something they have never done before. I was incredibly happy and so grateful. They were helping to make my dream a reality. So throughout this course, I’ve been working hard and been determined not to disappoint them. My goal was to get at least one offer from a medical school, and I did!”

Rebecca Conroy, CEO of East Sussex College, said, “Hayley made such a passionate plea in support of Ali and his enormous talent; I was compelled to find a way for us to support him. Our scholarship programme was created on the spot!

East Sussex College is here to support everyone in the community, and we will continue to do this moving forward. Due to lockdown, I have not yet met Ali, but I cannot wait to meet him in person and congratulate him on his huge achievements.”

Hayley Funnell, Head of Access to HE in Lewes, "Ali’s story is truly inspirational and he is so humble about it. I have never met anyone like him. From the first moment at the interview, he impressed us so much. His passion for becoming a doctor shined through and it was evident he had worked incredibly hard since being in the UK.

"Ali was so grateful when we offered him a place, but then we found out he wasn’t eligible for an advanced learner loan. I knew we had to help him, so I asked our CEO, Rebecca Conroy, to see if the college could do anything to help him. I was so delighted when we offered him the scholarship and I hope this scholarship scheme is the start of something great for the college. We are very community-focused and we're passionate about giving everyone access to education."

Ali will now concentrate on finishing his Access to HE course before joining Brighton and Sussex Medical School in September.

“The scholarship reassured my path and guaranteed my future. Until the end of the course, I am going to focus on getting the highest grades I can. It is a very good course, in a very good college. I can see that staff are dedicated and they genuinely want to help their students achieve their goals. I’m so pleased that I studied here.”

If you would like to study one of our Access to Higher Education courses to help you gain entry to university, then we are still accepting applications for September. Find out more on our Access to HE web page.

Danny Pike interviews East Sussex College student Ali Mohammadi and Hayley Funnell, Head of Access to HE.