Rachel Wiffen with children

A life less ordinary

With two children of her own at the age of 16, and a spell in foster care, the odds were stacked against Rachel Wiffen. But six years later, and thanks to your support for our scholarships programme, Rachel’s life has taken a different path.

Words: Rachel Wiffen

When you’re a young mum with a baby in a pram you are stigmatised. People think they already know who you are and your path in life, and that made me feel as if I was fighting against the world.

I’d always wanted to go to university. Even when I fell pregnant that never really changed. I went into care after I’d had Callum and Lilly. I had to get away from the situation I was in at the time so that the three of us could be supported.

"I’d always wanted to go to university. Even when I fell pregnant that never really changed."


Being such a young mum was a harsh reality but I just got on with it and I never lost sight of the idea of continuing my education. So I finished my GCSEs, got AAB grades at A levels and got accepted to do Biochemistry here at Nottingham in 2015.

It’s like I have a second chance at life. I thought the idea of becoming a scientist was beyond my reach but now I’ve got the tools to achieve it. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it’s a life changing experience. I work hard while my children are at school but dinner, homework, bath and bedtime is their time. Then it’s back to work into the early hours for me. 

Rachel Wiffen with children at laptop

I bought a laptop with my scholarship money so I can work at home. I simply wouldn’t have coped without it. 
My life has turned around through education. Now I’m positively moving forward and gaining confidence in my own abilities. I’ve even managed to get onto the University’s ‘students in classrooms' mentoring project. My experiences might help someone in a similar situation to believe their potential.

The kindness and selflessness shown by scholarships supporters is having a major impact on my family and our future.
I want to bring my children up in a home where a university education, if they want it, seems natural and possible. I know I’ve not chosen the easiest path but I’m proud of my children and proud of what I’m doing to make a better life for all of us. Thank you so much.


Thanks to your generosity, Rachel is one of hundreds of students supported by scholarships every year. If you would like to help another student like Rachel, take the next steps here.