A News story by Ellena Schuster-Farrell 19 September 2018

We are thrilled to announce that Laila Mafemba, a former student of North Birmingham Academy, has become the first E-ACT student to secure a place at the University of Oxford.

At the end of this month, Laila will join some of the top students in the country as she travels to Oxford to start her degree in Theology and Religion. We caught up with Laila to find out how it feels to be heading to one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world.

Congratulations, you must be thrilled.

I am, to be honest I’m still in shock! After results day didn’t go exactly as planned, I was kind of accepting that I was going to go to a different university. Then I got the call from Oxford! I’m so happy.

So what happened on results day?

I didn’t quite get the grades that I needed for my choices. So I went through clearing and secured a place at a different university. I was at the point where I was sorting out my accommodation and getting ready to go shopping for the things I needed.

Then last week, my teacher from sixth form called me and said, “are you sitting down?” She then told me that Oxford had been in touch, and that they wanted to offer me the place! I was just so shocked. I didn’t understand how it had happened.

That’s fantastic! How did it come about?

I didn’t speak to the university very much after results day, but seemingly my teachers were working really hard over the holidays to get me the place. I’ve since spoken to the university and they told me that they were happy to take me on. They’ve also sent me a reading list, and I move in on 30 September. I get to go to a ceremony to join the university formally, so that’s pretty cool!

How do you feel now that you’re going?

I’m a bit anxious because it’s such a prestigious university… it’s in its own league. I know that I’m going to try my best but it’s just hoping that my best will be enough! Besides that, I’m excited for all the new experiences, to meet different people and to be in a different environment as well.

What’s your advice for students that find themselves going through the clearing process?

Clearing is only stressful if you allow it to be stressful. For me, I let it stress me out too much. If you’re calm, you can make it work for you. And at the end of the day, being worried and upset isn’t worth it because you will get into the right university for you, regardless of what happens.

What’s next for Laila?

I’m so excited to start my degree. I’d also like to focus more on the things I feel passionately about. During my time at NBA, I did a TEDx Youth talk on FGM, and that is something I would like to do more work around. It will be good to network whilst at university, so that I can find likeminded people to work with me.

I also want to give back to NBA and to E-ACT – a lot of what I’m doing now, and where I’m going, is down to what my teachers and my peers have done for me. So I’d love to come back to speak to NBA and E-ACT students and encourage them to do the same.

A huge congratulations to Laila, you have made us all very proud! Make sure you keep an eye on our website for updates on our star student.