Mackenzie medical scholarship is life changing for Burnley-based UCLan student

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A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) medicine student says being awarded a fully funded scholarship for the duration of her studies has given her “the break she really needed” after being estranged from her family since the age of 17.

First year Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) student Sneha Shanthakumar is the 2024 recipient of the Mackenzie Scholarship, which is offered annually by UCLan and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust to students from underrepresented backgrounds and covers all tuition fees for the duration of the course.

The 22-year-old, who was born in India and moved to London at a very young age before making Burnley her home two years ago, says the scholarship means the world to her as she has never been able to rely on family for help so it was a relief to know her education has been taken care of.

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“I was really happy and shocked that I had been chosen for the Mackenzie Scholarship, especially since I had been independent and providing for myself since I was 17,” said Sneha. “UCLan has given me the big break I needed.”

University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) medicine student Sneha Shanthakumar is the 2024 recipient of the Mackenzie ScholarshipUniversity of Central Lancashire (UCLan) medicine student Sneha Shanthakumar is the 2024 recipient of the Mackenzie Scholarship
University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) medicine student Sneha Shanthakumar is the 2024 recipient of the Mackenzie Scholarship

Sneha has fended for herself for the last five years after leaving the family home due to personal difficulties. Although she comes from a family of medical professionals, it is due to Sneha’s hard work and tenacity that she has made it to medical school.

The aspiring doctor lived in a hostel for nine months after leaving home and got by working several jobs, including as a dry cleaner and housekeeper. After A-Levels she completed a foundation year in medicine at UCLan, followed by being accepted onto the MBBS programme.

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Sneha said: “Moving out at 17 was really difficult. I think when you’re young everyone sees the world with rose-tinted glasses, however, I learnt that there is so much more to adulthood. I think at the time I did not really process how hard it was to fend for myself. I was just trying to get to the next day.

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“For the last few years, I’ve felt like the world was against me and so this scholarship is life changing. It will help me to focus more on my studies and my career without having to worry about the debt.”

The Mackenzie Scholarship is one of several medical scholarships offered by UCLan to provide opportunities for underrepresented students to study medicine, as well as recruiting and retaining local doctors to NHS employment in areas that struggle to keep hold of professionals, such as Lancashire.

Sneha will also complete placements with East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust.

Dr Colin Michie, Associate Dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry at UCLan, said: “Sneha embodies everything the Mackenzie Scholarship stands for. She has the determination and passion to succeed and we are delighted to offer a helping hand to a future doctor.”

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Sneha added: “I cried when I found out about the scholarship. I was so happy, and I felt like it had been such a long journey to get to this point.

“Some of the people I would have loved to share this news with are no longer here so it’s bittersweet in some ways but I’m so excited for my life ahead.”

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