The Laidlaw Scholarship is a possibility for anyone. As a single parent to two young children and a mature student, I am proof of that.
As a child Charlie Bingham loved collecting stones, exploring museums and learning about nature which she sees as a prelude to the career path she would eventually decide upon. She is now an Archaeology undergraduate at York, but Charlie’s route to getting there was circuitous.
Charlie had her two children in her early 20s and initially worked as a Trainee Dental Nurse after leaving school to support her family:
“It was only after having my second child that I decided to apply for a place at university. It felt like the right time to do something for me.”
Charlie applied for the Laidlaw Scholarship after seeing it advertised in her department and was the first student from Archaeology to get a place on the programme. She feels like her life experience before undertaking the degree has helped her to make the most of what the university has to offer:
“Coming to university in my 20s means that I have a clearer idea of what I want to do than if I’d become an undergraduate at 18. I knew that I only had three years here and wanted to make the most of every opportunity. And the Scholarship seemed like a great way of adding to my experience.”
But Charlie admits that she was apprehensive of the Leadership side of the programme, before attending a development centre to undertake some psychometric testing.
In fact, Charlie believes that the Leadership part of the Scholarship has been the most useful element of the programme overall. When she received her feedback report from the testing she was amazed at how accurately it covered her strengths and areas for development and she has used this to put a plan in place to build on some of the feedback.
“I knew before I took the tests that I wasn’t always the most empathetic and I wanted to work on this. The Talent Q process has helped me to develop these skills and I feel like I now have a better understanding of other people’s feelings and points of view.”
For her research project, Charlie has focused on analysing corn smut, using ancient DNA methods to determine risks to UK agriculture, supported by her supervisor Dr Nathan Wales. While the research topic isn’t directly related to what Charlie wants to do next in her career, she thinks that having the opportunity to undertake a research project will help with her future plans.
So what is next on the agenda for Charlie? She is in the process of applying for a PhD focusing on the welfare of captive apes and would like to eventually work within zoos and conservation. She would also like to write a book on the topic.
Charlie believes that the Scholarship has really helped to develop her confidence in terms of applying for a PhD and also with progressing opportunities and ‘making things happen’. She wants people considering applying in the future to go for it:
“Before I applied for the programme I wasn’t sure if I’d fit what they were looking for in a Scholar but I’ve learned that the Scholarship can be for anyone. I’d encourage anyone thinking about applying to not hold back: it’s a brilliant opportunity to develop you, your confidence and your skills. Why wouldn’t you apply?”