Lauren off to Harvard
Harvard beckons for long-jumper Lauren
One of the world’s top universities is set to host a Forth Valley College student for a summer of sporting and academic training.
Promising Bo’ness athlete Lauren Tenn-Mills (18) – who is progressing on to her HND Health, Fitness and Exercise this year at the Falkirk Campus – is gearing up to spend six weeks at Harvard in the USA, from 22 June-10 August - on a scholarship secured through Who Cares? Scotland.
Falkirk Victoria Harriers athlete Lauren qualified to apply for the course as she has come through the foster care system and managed to win through from 50 other hopefuls to secure one of only two places - the other being Andi Stannard (17) from Orkney - for the much sought after slots.
At the world-renowned Ivy League university based in Boston, Massachusetts – which boasts some of the best sporting facilities on the globe – she will be honing her long-jumping and sprinting technique as well as studying for Psychology and Vocal Production units, which will complement her HND.
Lauren, who will have the choice of training in the McCurdy outdoor athletics track or the Gordon indoor arena, as well as state-of-the-art strength and conditioning and sports science facilities, while at Harvard, said: “Who Cares Scotland have strong links with Harvard and only offer two scholarship places each year to care experienced young people. It is a really difficult application process, but I had to apply.
“I managed to secure an interview, but I knew from the moment I had walked out of that interview that I had done really well.”
The former Bo’ness Academy Head girl is now looking forward to studying psychology and improving her presentation skills and all round confidence with her vocal production unit in the US.
But, it’s the athletics training facilities she is most looking forward to experiencing and helping her to improve upon her personal best long-jump distance – 5.51metres - achieved earlier this year with the help of her coach Gary Manson and FVC’s Leisure Facilities Coordinator Waimun Lee, who boosted her strength and conditioning in the college gym.
She added: “The stadiums out there are absolutely tremendous and I am definitely looking to make the most of training there. Overall I hope the whole experience will make me more independent. I can’t thank Who Cares Scotland enough for giving me this opportunity.”
This is the tenth year Who Cares? Scotland has sent students to Harvard for the summer, giving Care Experienced young people the opportunity to experience student life at an Ivy League university.
Duncan Dunlop, Chief Executive of Who Cares? Scotland wished both girls well before their departure, but said while it is right to celebrate Lauren and Andi’s achievements and provide aspirational opportunities; more can be done to support Care Experienced people in education.
Duncan added: “I’m positive that Andi and Lauren will thrive at Harvard, and take that experience with them as they continue their studies. Andi and Lauren are amongst the exception. Current figures show that just 16% of care experienced young people leave school with a single Higher, or a similar qualification. From 40 years of WC?S evidence, we know that Care Experienced people have always had high aspirations – and we need ensure all aspects of the system are able to support their ambitions.”
Kevin Browne-MacLeod, Director of Care Experienced Membership at Who Cares? Scotland, commented: “We need to do more to ensure that attainment for all people with Care Experience continues to improve. Behind all these great opportunities is suffering. This is a rare opportunity for anybody, even more for Care Experienced young people. We are looking at ways in which as a society we can better support Care Experienced young people throughout their education. The Harvard Summer School programme, and the support of corporate parents like the Scottish Qualifications Authority, help us to show young people that there are fantastic opportunities out there, and their background should not define their future.”
Dr Janet Brown, SQA Chief Executive, said: “Staff from across SQA are immensely proud of our relationship with Who Cares? Scotland. Like any corporate parent, we take great pride in the achievements of the young people we encounter. Andi and Lauren, are about to head off on a fantastic adventure, and it is a real thrill to see them set out on their own. Their time at Harvard will help shape them and their outlook on life, and I’m sure their story will inspire others who I hope will realise that your background should not be a barrier to your ambitions.”
At a recent athletics competition Lauren equalled her long-jump PB and came in second overall – making her the top rated under-20 jumper in Scotland.
But she is not the first in her family to pull on a Scotland kit, that accolade belongs to her brother – and fellow FVC student - Steven Stone (19) who has just returned from representing his country in Italy (6-10 June) in a competition for athletes with learning disabilities and in the T5 classification. He finished 5th overall in the long-jump and is now ranked fifth in the world. (More on Steven soon).
Lauren, said: “I am so proud of Steven. He has beat me to being the first in the family to pull on a Scotland kit, but he thoroughly deserves it. He is inspiring me to do the same.”
Waimun Lee FVC’s Leisure Facilities Coordinator, said: “Congratulations to Lauren for being accepted into Harvard for the summer. We are all really proud of her achievements to date, especially with her being so young as well. She has lots of years ahead to keep on learning and developing into an outstanding athlete and individual. I am looking forward to seeing where she goes from here on.”