26 August 2016

Serkan’s Story

by Anna Darling

"I didn't have the network that some of my peers had. I didn’t have family friends or parents that could introduce me to people in the field. The alumni told me about the challenges I would face, both socially and academically, and how to prepare for the transition between sixth form and university".

Serkan Hussein, Medical student at King's College London & former student of Kingsmead School

“I was always very creative at school. I always thought I’d be an architect or designer but from year nine on wards, I started to develop a keen interest in science.

It was then that I started to go to after school sessions with alumni in various healthcare professions. We heard from physios, nurses, psychiatrists, engineers and specialist doctors. We took part in group discussions about the day-to-day experiences of medical professionals. They gave us advice about what we should study, the grades we needed and the extra things like work experience or even the importance of shaking hands. In schools like mine students don’t know the importance of these things. The advice they shared gave me the foundation to go into year 12 knowing what I needed to do: early UCAS deadlines, Chemistry and Biology, and the importance of securing work experience. Without that, I’m not sure I would have done it.

I’m the first from my family to go to university so I didn’t really know what was involved. I didn’t know it takes six years to become a doctor, plus all the admissions exams and competition for spaces. It really helped me to hear from people who have been taught by the same teachers I had, sat in the same classes and shared similar experiences. They had been through the same system as me and not the grammar school down the road. The fact that they lived in the local area really motivated me and reassured me that if I worked hard, I could get into medicine.

The alumni told me about the challenges I would face, both socially and academically, and how to prepare for the transition between sixth form and university. I didn’t have the network that some of my peers had. I didn’t have family friends or parents that could introduce me to people in the field. I know what it’s like to apply for work experience and be rejected over and over again. That’s why I’m a member of the Kingsmead alumni network and regularly go back to speak to the students there now. I want to provide that network for the students and be that first point of contact for them. That’s the main reason I do it, to tell them not to be disheartened when they’re rejected. You have to pick yourself up and try again.

It’s quite a unique position to be in- that I can help shape their future, as well as help provide them with that foundation that they need. I know from personal experience that it can be really motivating for them to think, ‘He did it so I can too, I can achieve this, I can do better, I can reach my goals’”.