Lexi is currently studying English Literature and Language at the University of Oxford, Brasenose College. Originally from Greenwich, Lexi tragically lost her mum during 2019 when she was awaiting her GCSE results. Following this, she was displaced from her family home, taken into care and required to live in hostels.
We awarded Lexi an individual grant over 4 years in 2021. We caught up with Lexi to ask how her course is going and how our funding is supporting her in achieving her ambitions.
As a child, Lexi was always passionate about education and consistently worked hard during school. In 2019, however, she experienced a series of tragic and difficult events.
‘In 2019 my mum unfortunately passed while she was abroad. This left me alone in our family house because the guy she was with didn’t want to come back yet. When he did return, he kicked me out so I was homeless. That was when I moved into a hostel – just when I started year 12.’
‘By then I knew I wanted to go to Oxford University but the circumstances I was in started to make it a bit difficult. My key worker and I started trying to find ways that Oxford could still be an option for me, considering that I didn’t know where I was living and my work had started to slack as I was dealing with grief and being displaced several times. It was very hectic for a couple of months.’
‘Year 12 is the most important time for university applications and that’s why I’m so grateful I managed to find The Portal Trust as early as I did. My only income at the time was universal credit, so we were just looking for ways I could get a bit more financial backing and stability with money. I got in contact with the Trust and explained my circumstances and they were more than happy to help.’
It gave me some solace and comfort knowing that there would be something I could have that was stable and was going to come and work, when everything around me at that time was not very stable... I just want to thank The Portal Trust for the support. I really appreciate it and it’s made my first year – and I know it’s also going to make the rest of my undergrad time – a lot more enjoyable and relaxing.Lexi
English Literature & Language Student at Oxford University
Lexi specifically chose English Literature and Language due to her deep passion and enthusiasm for the subject.
‘I chose to study English for two reasons mostly. The first one is that I find it quite naturally easy. It’s a subject I’ve always found easy to pick up and because of that I’ve always wanted to get better at it and make it more challenging. The other one is that I’ve always loved reading from a very young age and when I started Secondary School, I wanted to learn why I like it so much. Studying English teaches you to appreciate language a lot more and not just in literature, but also in analysing when people speak, the way things are written, understanding the importance of tone, things like that. It’s not only allowing me to explore my passion of reading and writing but it’s also teaching me life skills and helping me to become a better person overall.’
Lexi told us that her course is going very well so far and she particularly enjoys the freedom she has to ‘expand upon ideas and come up with new wacky ways of interpreting things, rather than just writing essays to meet a mark scheme.’
She was particularly proud of passing her three hour preliminary exams at the end of first year, as she struggles with her handwriting speed and was worried about finishing the essays within the time frame.
‘I got a lovely email from my tutor who said she was very proud of me because she knows that hand writing is very hard for me. There was a period of time where we were worried that I wouldn’t be able to finish the essays.’
Although her course is demanding, Lexi also has many opportunities to socialise and has found herself in a close and friendly community.
‘I love the community in the college – the way I can walk out of the library and bump into somebody that I know. There are so many things for us to see like productions, performances or live jazz bands. But other than the people, my favourite part of Oxford is the tutors. I’ve loved English the entire way through my education but I don’t think I’ve loved English more than I do right now. It’s like you’re talking to someone who specializes in the subject you love, but they’re also learning from you and are happy for you to disagree and prod at what they’re saying.’
I’ve loved English the entire way through my education but I don’t think I’ve loved English more than I do right now.Lexi
English Literature & Language Student at Oxford University
We also asked Lexi to share the difference receiving funding from The Portal Trust made for her and how it has been helping with her time at university.
‘It gave me some solace and comfort knowing that there would be something I could have that was stable and was going to come and work, when everything around me at that time was not very stable.’
‘Because I’m a tenant my accommodation fees are a lot higher than other students, as they include the 6 weeks we have in our holidays between each term. The Portal Trust grant gives me that extra stability where I know I can actually afford this and I’ll save it until I need to pay them. I can then be sure that my student finance loans can be spent on other things.
‘I just want to thank The Portal Trust for the support. I’ve really appreciated it and it’s made my first year – and I know it’s also going to make the rest of my undergrad time – a lot more enjoyable and relaxing.
Looking forwards, Lexi’s ambitions for the future are to do a Master’s, a PhD and become an English professor herself.
‘After I finish my undergrad I want to do a Master’s. After that I want to do a couple of years of work, then do a PhD and apply to be a professor.’
‘I really want to become a professor because I really like teaching, but I also don’t really like the way it occurs in secondary schools and sixth forms. They encourage the broadening of ideas but it always reverts back to hitting points on a mark scheme.
I’d like to encourage students to think beyond that and I think being a professor would be the best way to do that because you have adults who equally love the subject and have been learning to try and think about things in a different way.’
We’re very proud of Lexi and her hard work towards achieving her ambitions. We’re delighted to support such a talented and inspiring individual and look forward to staying updated on her journey.