My name is Carrie-Anne. I am a PhD student currently undertaking my doctorate in Computer Science & Informatics at the University of Suffolk (Ipswich Campus). I became unwell in July 2019 and was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia and Migraine with Aura. I recently returned to university as a disabled student in January 2021 to further pursue my academic aspirations by completing the MSc in Data Science & Artificial Intelligence. This then opened up the opportunity for me to begin my PhD in February 2022.
I applied for the Inspring Futures Fund so I could attend the Oxford Machine Learning Summer School online that ran for a week in August 2022. My PhD supervisors had informed me that the summer school would be of great benefit to my understanding of my PhD topic, but I couldn’t afford the cost of admission (£80). Fortunately, the UoS offered a bursary that could cover the cost and enable me to attend after a successful application, which I am very grateful for.
I am not embarrassed to admit that I come from a working-class family where spare money is hard to come by, especially money to afford admission fees for summer schools and other opportunities. By receiving this bursary, I was finally able to attend a great educational opportunity without my socioeconomic status interrupting my chances. STEM is already an underrepresented area regarding women, those with disabilities, and people from other ethnic backgrounds, so the more underrepresented people apply for these opportunities the more this gap closes.
Having the chance to attend Oxford Machine Learning Summer School provided me with the opportunities I had been hoping for – ones of deeper understanding, modern applications, and where current research stands (this is especially important when completing my literature review). I was also provided with a certificate upon completion, as well as opportunities to network using Oxford’s chosen networking app: Slack. This gave me the opportunity to communicate with fellow students/researchers within my field as well as the speakers conducting the lectures. I gained 30+ new LinkedIn connections while attending, which has opened the door for future collaboration opportunities. None of this would have been within my reach without securing the Inspiring Futures Fund.
I would say to other students: Do it! Feel no hesitation and feel no shame. No-one should miss out on ANY opportunities due to their socioeconomic status, disabilities, gender identity, race, or any other underrepresented background. The application process is quick and simple, and you can receive up to £400 depending on your circumstances. The bursary team are also very friendly and supportive and will offer any help or guidance you require.