In this post, Gabriele Negro, a student who has just completed the Ecological and Environmental Sciences undergraduate degree programme, showcases a film he produced to inspire secondary school pupils from underrepresented backgrounds to take up science at university…
While I was in high school, I never thought about going to University. I just thought that university was not for “kids like me,” even when my grades were high. “I’m not smart enough”, I used to think. A big reason for this was that none of my parents or relatives had ever been to university. However, years later, after having submitted my dissertation, I can say I have loved every step of the way on my university journey. This made me wonder: how many more kids could be out there in a similar situation, where they have big potential but do not consider the possibility of university because of their personal background and circumstances?
The 4th-year course, GeoSciences Outreach, gave me the opportunity to address this issue and promote equal access to university. I chose to make a short video, Studying Science at Edinburgh University: Everyone is Welcome, that aims to inspire secondary school pupils from underrepresented backgrounds to take up science at university. The decision to make a video came from personal experience, too. When my older brother applied and got accepted into a university in Scotland, it made me realise that I COULD go to university, if I wanted to. Seeing someone like my brother – who grew up in similar circumstances as mine – getting accepted at university was the key to unlock the idea that actually “kids like me” could go to university. With this video I wanted to recreate a similar experience for current school pupils from underrepresented backgrounds by showing relatable people who successfully went through the university journey. Ultimately, my goal is to have kids watch this video and think: “If they made it, then I can, too!”.
By focusing the video on scientific subjects, I was also able to subtly address another critical topic: representation in science. What does come to your mind when you think of scientists? Too often we are used to think of scientists as older adults wearing lab coats. To expand this stereotypical view, I believe it is essential to display more scientists and science students who come from all walks of lives, especially in terms of gender, ethnicity, age, and socio-economic backgrounds.
This video will now be used by Widening Participation managers during their workshops with secondary school pupils. My hope is that some pupils will start considering university thanks to this video. Studying science at university has definitely changed my life for the better and the Widening Participation efforts are making sure the same can happen to many more kids in the future.