‘I would like to express gratitude on behalf of myself and my peers for the transformative impact of donors’, and in particular alumni, generosity. In order to truly convey my appreciation, I would like to tell you a bit about myself.’
I was born in Pakistan in 1999. The first few years of my life were spent between my mother’s village, whose only source of water was a well dug by my grandfather, and my father’s city, which is home to my earliest memory – of falling into an open sewer. Upon moving to the UK, I had three things drilled into me from a young age: education, education and education. I was made aware that education would be my passport out of the life in which I grew up, my opportunity to see beyond living in cramped conditions with extended family or council accommodation. Life had always been about surviving, and maybe with a decent education, I could survive better. Thus, I utilised what I share with so many other Cambridge Bursary recipients: a bit of talent, a lot of luck and inexhaustible determination. In 2017 I received my offer to read Law at Trinity College.
Arriving at Cambridge, I learnt that there was so much more to experience beyond the lecture theatres and libraries. I stopped fixating on survival and started considering how to seize every opportunity. With the help of the Bursary, for the first time in my life, I was no longer restricted in what I could eat, do or experience. I was able immerse myself in everything that College and the wider University had to offer. From Union talks and high-level sports to the Varsity trip, I no longer felt limited or excluded. What’s more, I was able to comfortably arrange frequent travel to London to attend a myriad of open days, interviews and assessment centres. In the absence of financial struggle, I was able to fully explore my future prospects. I have now been fortunate enough to receive an offer to train with an international law firm, where I hope to work on international infrastructure projects and sustainable development. Whilst education was a passport out of my situation, the Bursary was the key to broadening my horizons.
I hope to make the most of this opportunity and my Cambridge education. I aspire to help my family, work to improve infrastructure internationally, and emulate your generosity to fund students like me.
Maaz Shahzad, Law (2017)