One of the key factors in my decision to apply to Brasenose was the welcoming and friendly atmosphere I felt when I attended an Open Day. Coming from a state school in Doncaster, I really needed to see for myself that Oxford was not exclusive as the stereotypes suggest, and Brasenose really showed me that. Little did I know during that Open Day that I would soon be on the other side, continuing to reach out to prospective applicants as a proud member of Brasenose’s Team Access!
The more access activities I was able to contribute to at Oxford (and there are a lot of them!), the more I began to realise that doing access and outreach work puts me at my happiest. It was a natural next step, when the ‘empty-cv’ crisis hit and I decided to look for a summer internship, to apply for one with the University’s Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach team.
I was so excited–and surprised, since I had no formal work experience– to be offered the three-week internship. After the stresses of exam season, I couldn’t wait to throw myself into what I love most, and to see from the inside how Oxford is working to diversify its student population. From the very first day, I felt really welcomed and involved, and the team made sure to give me a real insight into the diversity of tasks and events they undertake.
I spent some days writing content for Oxplore, the university’s digital outreach portal, which produces thought-provoking educational material for 11-18 year olds to help them go beyond the school curriculum. My favourite piece I wrote was for the upcoming Big Question, ‘Is school the best place to learn?’ It involves a list of the Top 10 Best and Worst Fictional Teachers, and, for an English student, it was an absolute dream! It was wonderful to be able to contribute to Oxplore, which offers outreach to everyone, whether they can visit Oxford in person or not. I know that I would have been grateful for a resource like Oxplore when I was in secondary school.
I also had the opportunity to help with a huge range of access activities, from UNIQ (Oxford’s free summer school for UK state school students) to the Target Oxbridge residential (part of a programme which aims to improve access to Oxford for black students) to the huge Undergraduate Open Days. Self-confessed ‘access nerd’ as I have become, I was in my element– it was so exciting to be helping young people from so many different backgrounds to overcome the barriers to Oxford I would not have overcome if it weren’t for events like these. An absolute highlight for me was attending a reflection session at the end of one of the weeks of UNIQ. It was really quite emotional to hear students say time and again that what had once seemed inaccessible now felt achievable— that Oxford really was ‘for people like them.’
I honestly consider my internship to be one of the best things I’ve ever done– everyone I met was so friendly and so passionate about changing this university for the better, and I will miss every one of them. This experience has cemented my passion for access even more, and I’m now almost sure that it’s the career for me.
In short, I can’t see myself leaving Team Access any time soon.
By Charlotte Wriglesworth - formerly of The Hayfield School, Doncaster