Yasmin Reid-Linfoot studies Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Cambridge. Having achieved four A*s at A Level, she graduated from her first year with the highest results in her cohort. She has dedicated her time at university to inspiring other students from non-traditional backgrounds, and has taken on the role of Mentor Communications Officer with Project Access.
Yasmin was a recipient of the upReach Ten Award at the 2018 Student Social Mobility Awards.
Tell us a bit about your journey to winning an award at the Student Social Mobility Awards.
Before coming to university, I had experienced a number of challenges in my personal life. But one thing which had always been sturdy was my academic life, which I threw myself into. Often during my childhood, I was told that because of my background I wouldn’t get GCSEs, do well in my A-Levels or succeed at Cambridge. I didn’t want to be defined by my background, and so I made a conscious effort to try my hardest to succeed, and to always seek help when I needed it.
I didn’t expect to win, but it was a pleasant surprise to be given an upReach Ten award. It was an honour to be recognised among other students my age who have achieved some really incredible things and are so passionate about what they’re doing.
What does social mobility mean to you?
In my eyes, social mobility means not being defined by your past experiences, but by your own potential instead. It’s about recognising that you’ve had some difficulties or challenges which you wouldn’t have faced in a different set of circumstances, but refusing to be defined by those issues and instead creating another path – one where you can define yourself.
I support social mobility by taking part in mentoring programmes, where I can help support applicants to make difficult decisions about university. I know I would have benefitted from having a mentor during this process, as it can be difficult when you’re coming in from a background where no one in your family knows much about UCAS or mock interviews. I also work at access events at my university, where we support young students in less-privileged schools around Cambridge with school-related work, in the hope that this early support will make them more able to achieve in line with their potential.
What advice would you give to students just starting out at university?
My advice would be to take whatever opportunities look appealing. At university there is so much on offer and many of the things which happen routinely at university (such as careers fairs, networking events, talks from famous people) won’t happen so often when you graduate. Even though there is far too much going on to try it all, it’s definitely worth dipping your toe into lots of things – whether that’s various career sectors or different societies.