MATHS student Nathan McKeown-Luckly says a grant from Dorset Community Foundation helped fulfil a childhood dream of graduating from Cambridge University this summer.
The 23-year-old, from Highcliffe, near Christchurch, received two Superior STEM Bursary Grants that made it possible for him to study A-levels in maths, further maths, physics and computing at Brockenhurst College.
He said without the grant from the programme, which is supported by family seals design and manufacturing company Superior in Wimborne, he may have had to give up his studies.
“In the first year I needed the grant for a laptop and for my travel, I couldn’t really do computer science at A-level if I didn’t have a laptop,” he says.
His mum Jane, who at the time worked as a merchandiser couldn’t afford to support him. She says Nathan’s prowess at maths had been obvious since he was four. “He knew how to add, he remembered car numbers and he used to count how many steps he needed to avoid the cracks in the pavement so we realised that he’d got something in his brain, I think it was almost photographic to be honest,” she says.
“But it was frightening and really difficult because I couldn’t afford what he needed. My family have always believed in education so it was important for us, for him. He’s always been academic and needed the help and of course I hadn’t got the means to help him.”
Thanks to the Superior STEM Bursary he received grants of more than £2,300 over two years towards travel to college, equipment, stationery and study-related field trips.
Jane says: “We wouldn’t have been able to get him to Brockenhurst at all without the support from the community foundation. Originally he was going to go Highcliffe but then he decided Brockenhurst was better for him and I’m really grateful because it was.”
Looking back, we can see the stepping stones of the community foundation’s help that has enabled him to go forward and we just want to say thank you
After passing his A-Levels with an A* in maths, further maths and further maths (additional) and an A in physics and computer science, he won a place at Cambridge to study mathematics and this summer he and Jane were among the graduates in the historic surroundings of the university’s Senate House.
“It was an emotional day,” says Nathan. “I think that it really took until then to realise that I’d actually done something.”
Jane adds: “It was a unique day, very special.”
Nathan will begin studying for a Masters in computer science at York in the autumn and is still on course to fulfil his ambition to be a research professor.
“I realised that the areas of maths that I like the most have pretty deep links to computer science,” he says. “So, essentially, I want to get a bit of the computer science side of things as well and then see where that can take me. Hopefully I’ll be able to put the maths and computer science to use.”
His proud mum adds: “If Nathan couldn’t have gone to Brockenhurst, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to Cambridge, and he’s wanted to go to Cambridge since he was seven.
“Looking back, we can see the stepping stones of the community foundation’s help that has enabled him to go forward and we just want to say thank you.”
Dorset Community Foundation chief executive Grant Robson said: “Thanks to Superior’s support this fund is able remove the financial barriers that would otherwise prevent gifted people like Nathan from following their dreams and fulfilling their potential.
“We have been following Nathan’s story and we are so delighted for him and his mum, who has been an amazing source of support. It’s just such wonderful news and we are sure he’ll continue to thrive.”
The Superior STEM Bursary supports young people attending further education courses in STEM subjects at Brockenhurst College, Bournemouth & Poole College or The Bourne Academy sixth form with grants of up to £1,500 a year. Find out more about eligibility and how to apply here.
Pictured above: Nathan McKeown-Luckly at his graduation, receiving his degree and with his mum Jane on their “special day”