Project Description

Kate Matheson (21), a former student of St Andrews High School, recently graduated with a first-class degree in neuroscience from the University of St Andrews. Her journey to this prestigious achievement was fueled by the inspiring stories of other state school students from Fife who had studied at the university.

Reflecting on her journey, Kate shared, “I honestly don’t think I would have gone to university if I wasn’t on the First Chances Fife programme. I wasn’t overly interested in academic subjects at school, but I was so inspired by the stories of students at St Andrews that had also come from state schools across Fife and the really fun traditions that St Andrews has, like the May Dip and the foam fight on Raisin Monday.”

Despite initial concerns about fitting in and academic readiness, Kate found her place and thrived at St Andrews. She encourages others from similar backgrounds to take the leap: “For those thinking about coming to St Andrews from state schools in Fife but perhaps think that it ‘isn’t for people like them’ or that they’re not smart enough, I would encourage them to believe in themselves! If you have a passion for a particular subject and are open-minded, then you are absolutely meant to be here. There are so many opportunities that I’ve received here that I wouldn’t have anywhere else.”

Kate’s university experience was enriched by her role as a student ambassador. She worked with the widening access summer schools and events organized by the University’s Admissions team. “It has been so rewarding watching pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds change their perception about university and St Andrews in particular,” she said.

DYW Fife is incredibly proud of success stories like Kate’s, as they define who we are and what we stand for. Our mission is to bridge the gap between education and employment by equipping young people with the skills and experiences needed for their future careers. Kate’s story highlights the profound impact of initiatives like First Chances Fife and underscores our commitment to inspiring and supporting students to achieve their full potential.

Looking ahead, Kate is contemplating a Master’s degree in clinical neurology. She is passionate about working with patients and doctors to improve the lives of those with neurological conditions and hopes to incorporate outreach activities with school-aged pupils into her future endeavors.

Kate Matheson’s story is a testament to the power of inspiration and determination, proving that with the right support and mindset, incredible achievements are possible. This aligns perfectly with the goals of DYW Fife, encouraging more young people to follow their ambitions and pursue higher education and successful careers. We are proud to stand behind young individuals like Kate, who embody the essence of our mission and values.