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Page last updated at 13:28 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 14:28 UK
Scholarship for the Ruskin winner
By Grace Chapman
BBC OXFORD

Seyram Ofenyo
Seyram Ofenyo won her free place after a gruelling selection process

It's not everyday that you hear of a fairytale coming true but it seems that for Mrs Seyram Ofenyo is just has.

The 32 year old Kenyan mother of two from Southmoor near Abingdon has been given a scholarship to Ruskin College.

In August this year the college offered the unique opportunity to 'win a free degree' for one lucky student.

She found out about the opportunity on the website two days before the deadline and, two essays later, she was shortlisted for the prize.

If you ever get the chance to hear Seyram talk about her scholarship you'll notice how many times she says "dream come true" as she explains: "It has been a long standing dream. It has been more than ten years since I have been in the classroom and it's not just any other university.

"It is Ruskin College. A college that identifies your learning needs, a college that has like minded people like me, people who have few or no qualifications as well."

However, it was not the easiest application process. Getting to the final stages meant that she was required to deliver a presentation, an idea which she admits was worrying.

"When I was aware that we had to do a presentation, I thought 'Presentation? How can I cope with it?' but because I was passionate about it and I knew what it meant it gave me confidence all of a sudden," said Seyram.

When asked how much the funding will help her she was insistent. "A lot. I was thinking, 'How will I pay?' I didn't even have the money. I was meant to pay a £9,000 deposit. So, winning the scholarship has taken the burden off me and the worry that I would have to get an extra job to cover costs."

The scholarship and support of her husband leaves her free to celebrate her achievement rather than worry about money and support for her family.

She said: "Everybody was happy [when they heard]. They were screaming. Especially my brothers and sisters that are here with me in the UK. The church that I attend celebrated on my behalf.

"My family popped champagne. It was like a party... when my youngest saw my picture on the telly he was screaming 'Mummy look!' He wasn't expecting me there but he saw me there and he was excited."

Her chosen degree is social work. "It is something I have been dreaming of since I came to the UK because I love helping people and that is what social work is all about. Trying to help people live a normal life… going on a social work course will enable me to do it on more of a professional level."

Seyram's experience has certainly enabled her to deliver a strong message which she is eager to voice.

She said: "There is one thing I want everybody to know. If you have a dream, pursue it… do the research. That is what I did… Ruskin College made the difference.

"It has offered me a scholarship, an opportunity to get a good career which will change my life financially and make a difference to my family…so if somebody is out there and is thinking 'where do I start from?' and has a dream to pursue education I would advise you to pop into Ruskin and find out more.

"It has changed my life."

Seyram remains overwhelmed by her news. Her long standing wish to return to education has finally been granted by Ruskin College; her fairy god-mother in disguise.




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