Egyptian-born Bahga El-Sayed Katamesh wants to become a paediatrician. A year ago she had no clue how to do that. After attending several Impetus – PEF supported IntoUniversity programmes, including its Academic Support sessions, FOCUS week, and having a mentor, she has developed confidence that she previously lacked, and built-up the knowledge of how to achieve her dream. Bahga recently represented IntoUniversity at a Student Leadership Conference at Wellington College, and spoke to several hundred adults at the IntoUniversity annual meeting.
What do you think is the best thing about IntoUniversity?
The best think is that they help me think about my future. They are really, really helpful and also really, really friendly, which is why I come here every single day. Now I am looking for a good start in life. Before, I wouldn’t have had the patience to come every day. But now it just pulls me, I can’t stop coming.
How did you hear about IntoUniversity?
I heard from my school. They came in and told us what it is about and also I have friends who knew and explained it to me. If I stay at home I feel like I’m just wasting my time and if I come here, it pushes me forward. It is fun as well and it will help me with my CV to enter the area that I want to study and work.
Presumably all these courses have changed you in some way. How have you changed?
For one thing, they help me organise my time. I really feel like time is very precious. Also they make me realise that school is not enough. Now I don’t think that only with school I will get into university. I know that I need extracurricular activities, to participate in many clubs to add up on my CV.
For as long as I can remember, I always knew that I wanted to be a doctor, but I didn’t know which degree I would need to have, what grades I have to have in GCSEs, when I have to take A-levels, etc. Now it is so clear, and I have new ideas popping up all the time. I know that there’s not just one path you have to take, there are many options to get into medicine. Also they’ve given me some good information about how the education system works. Now I am planning to take a gap year before university to do some duty courses or work.
Before I used to stay at home and watch TV – it was such a waste of time. Now I know how much stuff I am missing out on if I do that.
Were you always so confident?
No. I used to be really shy, I didn’t know how to communicate with people, but now I am totally the opposite, I can talk to anyone. I used to hate drama and public speaking, but then when I came here, they gave me more opportunities to do both, more and more! You get involved with people that you don’t know, which makes you feel really confident. It becomes normal to be confident.
What is the secret of IntoUniversity? Why can they achieve things that school can’t?
I think it is because they are really friendly. In school when you talk to your teacher you have to use Sir, Madam, and here you can be yourself. And also you don’t feel under pressure or anything. It’s just about figuring out what you want, and they will help you get it.
Do you think you would achieve your dream without the help of IntoUniversity?
No, probably not. I would still be too shy. If I go for an interview at a college or university, the main thing is to be confident. I’ve learned to trust myself now. I think I needed this confidence and the ability to communicate with people to make what I want come true.
Bahga recently represented IntoUniversity at a Student Leadership Conference at Wellington College, and spoke to several hundred adults at theIntoUniversity annual meeting.