St John's College from the Kitchen Bridge. Photographer: Silas Hope.

Around 350 state school Year 12s and mature learners who took part in Cambridge University Students’ Union’s (CUSU) student-led Shadowing Scheme were invited to enter a photography and diary competition to share their experiences. 

If you are dedicated and hardworking, then it can be the place for you. It is now my aspiration and goal to study medicine at Cambridge!

Shabnam Tariq, student at Thomas Rotherham College in Rotherham
Every year, CUSU’s Shadowing Scheme offers an inspiring taste of life as a Cambridge student. Over three days, prospective applicants (‘shadows’) attend lectures and supervisions as well as getting involved with the University’s vibrant social life. 
CUSU received dozens of entries for this year’s competition and after much deliberation its judges have selected the best. 
Winning the diary competition, Shabnam Tariq from Thomas Rotherham College in Rotherham, described going on a tour around Cambridge with her student mentor:
“The community was vibrant with people from all sorts of social and cultural backgrounds which I was not expecting.”
Shabnam particularly enjoyed dining in Trinity College:
“The architecture was beautiful and the ceiling was just as stunning. Being an A-level historian, I even spotted a portrait of Henry VIII, which helped me to understand Tudor propaganda even more. Who wouldn't want to stare at a portrait of Henry while enjoying a three-course meal?”

Shabnam also described in lively detail the academic components of her Shadowing Scheme weekend, writing: 
“I visited the beautiful Fitzwilliam Museum and then went to a ‘Life as a medical student’ introduction at Addenbrookes Hospital. Everything was very practical. I got the chance to test people's blood pressure and do a cardiac examination which was very fun. We then received a talk from a consultant on medical school admissions. This was very useful because it made me realise that you need more than knowledge to become a doctor…”
Shabnam concluded: “I had an amazing time on the Shadowing Scheme and it has made me want to study medicine at Cambridge even more. I learnt that nobody is arrogant, obnoxious and has 20 A-levels. Well, most people are not! It has also made me realise that you do not need to come from a wealthy family or a private school to study there; if you are dedicated and hardworking, then it can be the place for you. It is now my aspiration and goal to study medicine at Cambridge!”
Runner-up, Dominic Crombie from St Aidan’s Catholic Academy in Sunderland, wrote:
“There are certain things a person can’t do in good conscience anymore after having gone to Cambridge. They can’t be a cynic, seeing all the students will quickly dispel that. They can’t question the value of a university; it’s in every conversation on everything from [Nicki] Minaj to Marlowe. They can’t waste time; there are far too many plays to write and music-related debates to be had for that. And they can’t be satisfied with not knowing things, with not being curious …”
In the Photography category, Silas Hope from Sir Joseph Williamson's Mathematical School in Rochester (Kent) took first prize with an atmospheric and brilliantly executed shot of St John’s College taken from the Kitchen Bridge.
The Runners-up were:
Mohammad Haris Fazal from Loxford School of Science and Technology in Ilford (Essex) whose decision to snap the view through the window of his room at Queens' College resulted in a highly original photograph which captured the sense of becoming a Cambridge student for the weekend; 
William Keeley from Cronton Sixth Form in Widnes (Cheshire), who presented two photographs, one of Gonville & Caius College, the other of King’s College, to create a striking collage effect.

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