Danielle studied Law at Mansfield from 2015 to 2018. Following graduating from Oxford, she was Called to the Bar in 2019 and started pupillage at Nexus Chambers in 2020.
I am incredibly grateful for Mansfield’s access and outreach work. I attended state schools on the Isle of Wight, a number of which were in special measures, for my primary and secondary education. The Isle of Wight Sixth Form College where I studied at A-level had only ever had one student go to Oxford and no one in my family had attended University.
I knew I wanted to study and have a career in law. I was impressed by the academic focus of Oxford’s Jurisprudence BA and thought that the contacts I could gain at Oxford, along with the reputation attached to an Oxford degree, would help me with a career in law.
However, from what I had read online, my grades were not as impressive as the typical Oxford student. I only had 2 A*s at GCSE, whereas I had read Oxford students had at least 7A*s, and my AS levels were not all 90 UMS and above. I also had no idea what kind of questions would be asked at interview, if I would get that far. I hadn’t had much experience at public speaking and thought I would appear less slick at interview than those from backgrounds where applying to Oxford was normal and expected. I remember worrying that applying for Oxford would just waste a space on my UCAS form for a different university that might be more likely to accept me.
Luckily, Mansfield College’s Senior Tutor Lucinda Rumsey had arranged a talk at my College. She made me feel more comfortable about applying for Oxford and encouraged me that being offered a place was a real possibility. I remember her reassuring a group of us that what really mattered was achieving 3 A grades at A-level and demonstrating an interest in our chosen subjects. I also learnt that Mansfield would consider my grades in context rather than compare them like-with-like with other applicants. Without Lucinda’s talk, I probably wouldn’t have decided to apply for Oxford.
I attended Oxford University’s Open Day and made sure to visit Mansfield. The small and friendly atmosphere at Mansfield, and fact that it was proud to have the highest representation of state school students, made me feel like Mansfield was somewhere I could fit in.
I was also impressed with the student volunteers at the interview process, who were really welcoming and reassuring. Once I was lucky enough to be offered a place, I enjoyed the opportunity of attending the Friends and Family Day and meeting other students.
I had a very rewarding university experience and loved getting involved in college life – including coxing for Mansfield College Boat Club in my first year and co-running Mansfield’s Human Rights Forum. Mansfield’s access and outreach work is truly worth celebrating.