Applying for the Thouron Award, and what it means to me
Last updated on Thursday 28 Jul 2022 on 9:46am
Why I chose to apply to Thouron
For me, the Thouron Award represents a great deal more than just incredibly generous funding - it is a beacon for those who love to learn and possess a growth mindset, an opportunity for those seeking a change in how and where they learn, and a community in which to nurture the change you wish to leave the world with. I have never been to the United States, but I am a huge lover of basketball and one of my all-time heroes - the late, great Kobe Bryant - would always speak about perfecting your craft and leaving behind a better place and greater opportunity for the next generation. I took those words very personally for a long time and when I came across the Thouron Award, I felt that their mission embodied the spirit of those two things by enabling young individuals to thrive and to perfect their craft through higher education.
Access to higher education is incredibly important. Growing up as a working class, second generation immigrant I was trained to prioritise my education from day one. However, not all of us are fortunate enough to go to university. I recall former classmates who due to their own and their families' circumstances were unable to go to university as they needed to work to earn money as soon as possible. The busy admissions teams in universities are often too stretched to deal with individual circumstances and the funding is not always there, so having the chance to apply to the Thouron Award was fantastic. Having only been named a Thouron Scholar in February of this year, I have already felt the support from the Thouron family and colleagues in the programme, with them going the extra mile to ensure that my individual circumstances are accounted for. The Thouron commitment is so much more than a scholarship - it comes with a much more personal investment from everyone in the team and you are genuinely looked after.
The interview process
The interview process for the Thouron Award hugely reflected this. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic concerns it was decided that the interviews would be conducted fully online with candidates, interviewers and Thouron family members alike dialling into a huge Zoom room. You might imagine that 10+ hours on a Zoom call would be awful, but the Thouron staff did their best to ensure it was a pleasant and valuable experience, mitigating Zoom-fatigue as much as possible. While the interviews themselves had an in-depth academic component, it was clear from the variety of interviews conducted that Thouron was about so much more than academic achievements. One of the interviews was directly with Rupert Thouron, who heads up the award on behalf of the Thouron family, and intended to gauge our compatibility with the award. While a tad nerve-wracking to begin with, the interview quickly felt like a conversation between two people just getting to know each other on a deeper level. Another component of the interview was a presentation and then a discussion facilitated by you. The interview process itself made me feel that Thouron would go above and beyond support me, and that was a huge part in my decision to accept my offer from the University of Pennsylvania.
Having spoken to some of the previous Scholars and from my experience so far, I am incredibly excited for what lies ahead. Starting my PhD next month is already a huge dream come true but to know that I have the Thouron family and staff in my corner has allowed me to move back into academia with confidence, knowing that I will grow both as an academic and as a person.
Should you apply to the Thouron Award?
Absolutely. I have learned so much from the application process itself, from the other candidates, and speaking to those who had previously been recipients of the award. The jump to postgraduate study can be a big one, especially in a country you don't know all that well! But if you are willing to commit to that leap of faith, the Thouron Award will be right there with you and support you should you be successful.
I cannot wait to see what lies ahead over the next couple of years and to get started on this journey. I hope that students who have struggled to find funding and pushed through their own hardships can apply and be helped along by the Thouron Award. My thanks goes out to them , both as a current scholar and in general, for demonstrating what access to higher education should look like!