Hertswood Academy student accepted at Yale and Oxford universities

Paige Cunningham is dreaming of life in America

Paige Cunningham is dreaming of life in America

First published in News
Last updated
Borehamwood Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

She grew up on a housing estate and is the first person in her family to be offered a place at university.

But a student at a local secondary school now has to choose between two of the greatest seats of learning in the world.

Paige Cunningham, 18, who is in Year 13 at Hertswood Academy in Borehamwood, has been offered places to study at both Yale and Oxford.

The keen philosophy student, who has lived all her life on the Organ Hall estate, still cannot believe her good fortune.

She said: “It seems really surreal to me, it has not yet dawned on me that I am in the position to choose between two of the greatest universities in the world.

“I still haven’t decided which one I am going to go to. My heart wants to go to America, although my head says I should go to Oxford, where it would be cheaper and I would be closer to my family.”

Paige was one of 150 students from across the country to be accepted on the Sutton Trust’s US programme last summer, which offers bright state school students a taste of life at an American university. 

She said: “Going to America with the Sutton Trust was my first time out of the country. I spent a week in Yale and felt completely at home there. It’s in New England so the gothic architecture is very similar to universities over here.

“The Sutton Trust experience means I have made quite a few friends who will be going to Yale as well.”

Paige, who comes from a single parent family, said her friends and family were delighted with her success.

She added: “I’m very grateful to Hertswood , and to my mother, for helping me achieve my dreams.

"I’m so proud of myself, I’ve always known I wanted to go to university, but if you’d spoken to me a year ago I would never have thought I would do this well. I hope it will inspire other young people in my situation.”

The school has recently seen a 20 per cent increase in the number of students applying to university, with many securing places at Russell Group universities.

Head of sixth form Carey McFerran said she wanted to build on Paige’s example to encourage other students to aim high.

She said: “Paige is an outstanding role model for our students. She works incredibly hard and excels at organising her time and deserves this success.”

Headteacher Peter Gillett said: “Paige’s example shows that repeated practice at a high level has cut through the barriers she has faced in life.

“No matter where you come from, if you work hard and are dedicated, it is possible for you to do anything.

“Paige has been with us since Year 7 and the school has supported her to do well. We wish her every success in the future.”

Comments (3)

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7:03pm Tue 21 Jan 14

JulieShail says...

Congratulations Paige on your amazing achievement ..... What a choice to make!! Your mum must be so proud and you are a fantastic role model to students at Hertswood! Good luck
Congratulations Paige on your amazing achievement ..... What a choice to make!! Your mum must be so proud and you are a fantastic role model to students at Hertswood! Good luck JulieShail
  • Score: 7

9:42am Wed 22 Jan 14

clive4it says...

Dear Paige, how wonderful to have just a difficult choice! I cannot offer you advice over which university to chose but I am sure you will weigh up all the pros and cons and either way you cannot be going far wrong. Very well done.
Dear Paige, how wonderful to have just a difficult choice! I cannot offer you advice over which university to chose but I am sure you will weigh up all the pros and cons and either way you cannot be going far wrong. Very well done. clive4it
  • Score: 1

1:06am Thu 23 Jan 14

Views&opinions says...

Well done you! It's a shame in this day and age we have to resort to sob stories about growing up in a council estate (it's organ hall not the hood!) and a single-parent family's pretty normal.

But that isn't to detract from your achievements. Good on you for your hard work and good luck with your choice - some real philosophising the next few days! I tend to say trust your heart more than your head, or better yet your belly. But as clive says you can't go far wrong...whichever you choose, enjoy it!
Well done you! It's a shame in this day and age we have to resort to sob stories about growing up in a council estate (it's organ hall not the hood!) and a single-parent family's pretty normal. But that isn't to detract from your achievements. Good on you for your hard work and good luck with your choice - some real philosophising the next few days! I tend to say trust your heart more than your head, or better yet your belly. But as clive says you can't go far wrong...whichever you choose, enjoy it! Views&opinions
  • Score: 0

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