Cardiff to Chicago: Star student set to study Stateside thanks to Seren’s support

A Cardiff teenager will be heading to the states this September to kickstart his dream career in economics after securing a place at one of the top universities in the world.

Donte Day, 18, from Pentwyn, has secured his spot at the University of Chicago to study economics after achieving an outstanding 4A*s in his Biology, Chemistry, Economics and Maths A-levels.

The former deputy head boy at Llanishen High School had his interest in studying Stateside sparked by attending a prestigious summer school at Yale University last year through Seren – a scheme funded by Welsh Government which is designed to support Wales’ brightest students to achieve their academic potential and go to leading universities in Wales, the UK, and overseas, regardless of their background or location.

Despite boasting impressive academic credentials, Donte originally thought that the idea of studying abroad, let alone in one of the best universities in the world, would be out of reach for someone with humble origins like him due to the cost implications.

However, attending Seren’s 2018 cohort launch event in Cardiff, where he had the chance to meet with representatives from a range of international universities including Yale and MIT ignited his dream. Speaking to previous Seren alumni who had attended American universities made him realise this dream could become a reality.

Following the event, Donte spent his Christmas holidays busily applying for the two-week residential summer school at Yale. Due to an impressive application, he qualified for a scholarship, funded between Seren and the Yale Young Global Scholar’s Programme.

The experience, which saw Donte studying and socialising on campus – gaining a real insight into life at an American university – inspired him to dream big and apply to study at Chicago, a city he had always been fascinated by. The talented student has been able to get a scholarship to fund his four years at the university.

Once he has completed his degree, Donte hopes to return to Wales to help other Welsh students on the Seren programme to realise their potential.

Donte said: “When I got my acceptance, I really couldn’t believe it. I’d convinced myself that I would never actually get in, so receiving confirmation of my place was absolutely amazing. I’ve always wanted to study in a big city and Chicago ticks all the boxes. The university has one of the best economics schools in the world and has produced some of the most famous economists such as Milton Friedman.

“The course will also provide me with a guaranteed paid internship as well as the opportunity to study abroad for a year in another city, such as in Paris, which I am keen to do. Doing so will help me to broaden my horizons and give me the chance to learn about my course from another viewpoint.  I’m obviously nervous about going so far away without knowing anyone but I’m also really excited.

“I am so thankful to Seren as I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the support. If I hadn’t been on the programme and attended the launch event, I wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to apply for the Yale summer school that Seren provided and would never have thought of going to university in America. I’d like to come back to Wales and pass on my experience and things I’ve learnt to help inspire and motivate the next generation of Welsh talent.”

Established in 2015, Seren aims to inspire and support high attaining students to apply for leading universities in Wales, the UK, and overseas. Students on the programme have access to a range of online events to stretch and challenge them in the subjects they enjoy, as well as the opportunity to talk directly with admissions tutors and academics from top institutions including Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard.

The scheme also provides youngsters with information and support to apply for university summer schools and workshops, as well as guidance on completing personal statements, UCAS applications, admissions tests and interviews for renowned universities.

Speaking about Donte’s achievements, Emma Lloyd, Achievement Leader KS5 at Llanishen High School said: “I have never met such a down to earth, driven and aspirational young man as Donte. He has always worked immensely hard and thoroughly deserves all the successes he has had to date and in the future.

“Seren has been a wonderful support programme for our school. It is a brilliant scheme that we’re proud to be a part of, helping us to ensure that talented students are able to fulfil their potential. I am a firm believer that finance or background should not be a barrier to higher education – Seren enables us to ensure this is the case, providing our highest achievers with the support and resources they need to make the most of the opportunities available to them.”

For more information on the Seren programme visit: https://gov.wales/seren-network

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