Woman bags University of Cambridge place 13 years after dropping out of school

Former City and Islington College student Holly Wells has secured a place at the University of Cambr

Former City and Islington College student Holly Wells has secured a place at the University of Cambridge to read English. - Credit: Archant

A woman has achieved her dream of studying English at the University of Cambridge – more than a decade after dropping out of school during her A-levels due to mental health problems.

Hollie Wells bagged her place at Lucy Cavendish College after achieving distinctions across the board in her Access to Higher Education diploma at City and Islington College earlier this year.

The 31-year-old’s success in securing a full set of 45 distinctions at college is a far cry from her final year at school when she felt she had nowhere to turn with regard to her education.

She said: “After crumbling under the pressure of A-levels at 18, I was never completely sure I’d manage to find my way back to academia.

“But spending my 30th year working in a school and watching students fall in love with learning gave me the burst of inspiration I needed to apply for Access to Higher Education.”

At City and Islington, Hollie was given the support she needed, but was also encouraged to aim for her Oxbridge goal.

“The course itself, with its focus on independent learning and self-sufficiency, along with some incredible teaching, helped me find the confidence to apply,” she added.

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“Nine intensely challenging – and rewarding – months later, I secured my place.

“The impact of the access course has been indescribable, except to say that my life has changed beyond recognition.

“I am delighted, and eternally grateful.”

Lucy Cavendish is the only women’s college in Europe for students aged 21 or over, and was founded in 1965 to increase the opportunities available for women to work and study at the highest level.

But Hollie is not the only former City and Islington College student to have enrolled at the university of her choice last week. Former West End actress Roseanna Christoforou opted for a career change after spending six months in south-east Asia and South America – after completing her course she is now studying veterinary medicine at Surrey University.

Gabriella Martino, a former flight attendant and fashion photographer, will also take a different direction after accepting a place at UCL to study security and crime science.