Freemen's bursaries: Irene's story

Irene’s family moved to the UK from Spain before she was born. After her father passed away, Irene’s mother was afraid that something might happen to her too, so decided to put her brother into boarding school. When it was Irene’s time to go into Sixth Form, she made the same decision and Irene came to Freemen’s.

“It was something that I wanted; to get away from the busy city, knowing that I was going to get a good education, then when they gave us the bursary, I was a bit like 'oh do I want this, do I not want this?'”

Irene recalls how nervous she was when she first came to Freemen’s, living away from home for the first time, but she quickly made friends.

“I was feeling sad, but me and my roommate got along really quicky. It just felt good.” At home in London, it was only Irene, her mum and her two brothers, so Freemen’s became an extension of her family.

“On Fridays, we would all go to Sainsbury’s and do a shopping trip  and it was just so much fun, it was  like going to the shops with your parents, but you are with your ‘siblings’. Nearly every day we would play sort of board games or card games. Obviously I would aways win and everyone was always jealous,” she jokes.

“Our main game that we used to play was Perudo which I think I got gifted for Christmas. We used to play Perudo all the time.”

She believes her time at Freemen’s helped her get to where she wanted to get to. “Life at my old school was difficult. Not everyone wanted to do academic things after school. They weren’t really focussed as much as they were at Freemen’s. It was good to be surrounded by like-minded people.”

"Freemen’s really helped me get into a university mindset in terms of how to revise and how to work and not tire yourself out. At the School, they really emphasise helping with things like that. The way they teach at Freemen’s shows you how to problem solve and how to get to the answer. And that’s what I’ve carried through with me from Freemen’s.”  

Freemen’s offered Irene a lot of unique opportunities she would not have had the chance to experience without a bursary. “I got a grant to go to the Chinese University of Hong Kong (through the Freemen’s School Association) where I did a two week course in robotics and accounting. It was so much fun and I cried [when I left because] it was just such an amazing experience.”

Irene went on to study statistics at Queen Mary University of London and graduated with a first. She encourages other bursary students to get involved.

“My advice for potential bursary students would be to come with open arms, embrace everything that the school has to offer, because it will help you advance in life and get to where you want to get to.”

Irene enjoyed her visit back to Freemen’s.

“I would love to spend a night [in Walbrook] just to feel what it feels like again. There’s not one single bad memory. I want to cry every time I leave, every single time. It’s a really nice feeling to be here. I would send my kids here when I’m older.” 

Find out more about bursaries here.

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