“Millfield changed my life:” how a Polish student achieved her dreams of an education with the help of former local MP and a Somerset independent school

An eighteen-year-old student from Poland has gone from arriving in England with barely a word of English to a promising career in Nuclear or Aerospace Engineering, thanks to a former local Somerset MP and an independent school.

Teenager Martyna Wisniewska from Somerset went from thinking she would never have the chance to go to Sixth Form to a bright future as a scientist thanks to her academic achievements and with the help of local politician Tessa Munt and leading Somerset independent school, Millfield in Street.

In 2012, Martyna arrived in England with her family with a passion for science, but no language skills: “I’d think in English but insert Polish words so that I could push myself to get the language as soon as I could.” After achieving outstanding GCSEs, Martyna had hoped to go on to study for her A levels, but family commitments meant she may have to work instead. A chance meeting with former local MP Tessa Munt, who was speaking at the residential youth club event Martyna was attending, led to the opportunity of a lifetime: “I really wanted to talk to her because she might be able to help my situation. I had to learn to get over that anxiety and just go for it.”

After hearing Martyna’s story, Tessa got in touch with the headmaster of Millfield School, Gavin Horgan, who offered Martyna an interview. The meeting went well, and Martyna was offered a generous scholarship that enabled her to study and board at Millfield full-time: “I was shocked, I thought ‘how does this happen to someone like me.’ I was really happy to even to have an interview and a chance; I didn’t think it was possible for me to go to a school like Millfield.”

While at Millfield, Martyna was heavily involved in academic extension lectures and seminars, met likeminded students and had the freedom and resource to explore a range of possible career options with the assistance of the Millfield Careers Department: “Boarding was really exciting – I’ve always been very independent, and it let me have that control of what I’m going to be doing and the peace of my own room to do my work. What I love about Millfield is that there’s so many people with open mindsets, so it kept my eyes open to the options available to me. I took opportunities to explore and learn everywhere I could.”

With a love of planes, Martnya decided to apply for a range of engineering courses and degree apprenticeships and is now faced with the choice between an Aerospace Engineering degree at the University of Sheffield, which includes a private pilot instruction course, and a degree apprenticeship in Nuclear Engineering with EDF.

Martyna says, “The opportunity I had came down to my motivation to learn more and my good grades. Millfield was a dream come true: having an environment where I could focus on my goals was amazing. It’s pretty safe to say that without my language skills and the opportunity I had at Millfield, I don’t know where I would be now.”

Millfield Headmaster Gavin Horgan says, “Martyna’s story shows that if you have the talent and motivation to achieve your dreams, anything is possible. We are incredibly proud to have been a part of her journey and everyone at Millfield can’t wait to see where her future takes her next.”

Tessa Munt said “It’s been a joy to introduce Martyna to Millfield and vice versa. Martyna had the courage to ask for what she wanted, and the last two years have seen her take every opportunity Millfield School could offer her.  Millfield has demonstrated exactly what its school ethos means: discovering and nurturing talent - and I thank Gavin and his team for making this young woman’s dreams come true. I’ll watch Martyna’s progress with great interest - for her, the sky’s the limit!”

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