An A level student on a life-changing free place at a top UK boarding school is pursuing her dream of becoming a doctor.
Ernesta Danquah Amoah, 18, from Barking, Greater London, attended Millfield School, in Street, Somerset, on a Royal National Children’s SpringBoard Foundation place for Sixth Form.
She is now going on to study Biomedical Science at either Newcastle or Birmingham University, which she plans to follow with medicine, to become the first doctor in her family.
SpringBoard connects children from disadvantaged backgrounds with boarding schools that are willing to provide life-transforming 110% bursaries. The bursary, funded by the Millfield Foundation, not only covers fees, but includes uniform and sports kit, travel to and from school and essential items.
Ernesta attended Riverside School, a state secondary school in Barking, but after a chance conversation between her parents and a friend, she started attending the Leadership Academy East Side with the aim of getting into a boarding school.
Ernesta’s parents own a Ghanian restaurant in London and came to the UK from Ghana. A boarding place at Millfield costs around £47,000 a year.
Today she celebrates achieving three A levels, gaining an A* in Psychology, an A in Biology and a B in Chemistry.
Ernesta is now on a mission to make the opportunities she has had available to others in the future.
She has been instrumental in raising awareness of how donations to school foundations can be life-changing for individuals like her, giving talks and fronting up a Giving Day campaign. Having only had the opportunity to travel once before in her life, Ernesta went on a netball tour to Dubai, also paid for by the school.
Ernesta said: “Coming to Millfield was a life changing experience. I was initially worried that I wouldn’t fit in as it was such a different environment from what I was used to in London but I was definitely proven wrong. One of the things that stood out was how diverse the school was with students and teachers from all over the world. I think this crossing of cultures, religions and beliefs is something that makes this school so unique. I was surrounded by so many talented individuals who wanted to succeed, and that motivated me to reach beyond the stars.
“I was anxious at first because none of my friends had been to a boarding school and it was far away from home but I was excited to be able to do sport again. I did netball at my previous school and athletics with a club but it was nothing like Millfield could offer me.
“My class size went from 32 to 10 and individual teacher time was a big difference. I also learnt the importance of networking and timekeeping in order to balance all the things I wanted to do and ambition, with so many really ambitious people around me. That really motivated me to pursue medicine.”
Ernesta had netball and athletics high jump training sessions 8 times a week, became a prefect, started Millfield’s Afro Caribbean Society and helped organise international events. She said: “I wanted to help black students particularly to speak up and share ideas.”
“My housemistress and athletics coach were really there for me and that is something I appreciate greatly. My story is inspiring others in my community to be aspirational about what they can achieve. I would love to help make this happen and mentor someone.”
She has three brothers, two of whom are looking for a boarding school to follow in their sister’s footsteps.