Two young people with a passion for education and business have been selected to continue the legacy of a champion of North East enterprise and learning.
Primary Education student Vicky Graham, 34, and Business and Financial Management student Jesse Thompson, 22, are both in the final year of their studies at the University of Sunderland.
The young students have won this year’s Sir Tom Cowie Memorial Scholarship Award receiving £10,000 each to support them in their final year.
The award was set up in memory of the Wearside-born entrepreneur who died in 2012, aged 89. Sir Tom was a long-term supporter of the University and believed passionately in its principles of affording those with talent, regardless of background, the opportunity to enter higher education.
As part of his legacy, the Sir Tom Cowie Memorial Scholarship Awards were set up to support students to achieve their full potential.
The Scholarship, now in its seventh year, is awarded to a male and female student from the Sunderland area who, at the end of their penultimate year of study have demonstrated an excellent academic record and are on track to secure a First Class Honours Degree or upper Second Class Honours Degree.
Award-winning student Jesse Thompson from Hendon, says: “Growing up in Sunderland, I have heard of Sir Tom Cowie, and I saw the positive effect the scholarship had on previous students, which made me keen to take up the same opportunity.
“Thanks to the support provided by the scholarship, I have been able to reduce my working hours and fully focus on my final year. Now, I’ve exceeded my academic targets and I’m on track for a First Class degree.
“Winning the scholarship really makes me stand out from other applicants when speaking to potential employers.”
Mum of three Vicky Graham, from Sunderland, was struggling to balance the demands of her teaching degree in Primary Education with family life.
“I was struggling to put adequate time into my studies, and felt very guilty about the financial strain I had put on my family,” says Vicky, “but I really wanted pursue my passion for education.
“Now, thanks to the scholarship I have been able to reduce my hours at work and pay for additional childcare to fully immerse myself in my studies.”
Winning the Sir Tom Cowie Memorial Scholarship Award made a huge difference to Vicky – she will graduate this summer with a First Class degree, and is planning to continue her studies with plans to research inclusion and social mobility in education.
David Gray, FRICS, Chairman of Trustees of The Sir Tom Cowie Charitable Trust, said: “When I first discussed the idea of the scholarships with Sir Tom, his vision was to have an influence of young people’s education through his charity.
“Clearly, the support being given by the Charitable Trust is proving to be a significant help to both Jesse and Vicky in their final year, freeing up their time from family commitments and relieving financial pressures, to allow them to focus on achieving as high a degree as possible.”
Every year the University of Sunderland offers tens of thousands of pounds worth of funding to current students, to help improve their studies, professional practice and employability. DOSH, the Development Office Scholarship scheme, offers students studying at Sunderland non-means test, not-repayable scholarships from £250 to £10,000.