Nexen bursaries group IMG 7661Pictured (L-R): Mark Leonard, Course Team Leader Business (Acting); Abdeeq Ali; Jack Harris, Course Team Leaader Maths & Science; Mattia Ottonello; Ehmal Helali; Dr Alastair Mullins, Director - 14 to 19; Fortune Msamala, and Rakesh Thapar, Section Manager Electronic Engineering.

Students were presented with bursaries totalling £1,000 to support science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) – thanks to the oil and gas company Nexen Petroleum UK. The bursaries are the first of several rounds due to be awarded in the forthcoming months.

The four students had to pass an application and interview process in order to be selected for the bursaries, which are part of a generous donation to the College by Nexen totalling £30,000. As the global company has offices in Uxbridge, it works to support the local community in a number of ways, and its donation to the College has been used to support a range of STEM related activities.

The students selected for the bursaries were:

Abdeeq Ali (17), Ehmal Helali (19), Fortune Msamala (18) and Mattia Ottonello (23).

Abdeeq is in the second year of the BTEC Extended Diploma in Electrical/Electronic Engineering and wants to study the subject at Brunel University, which has offered him a place. He said: “I applied for the bursary because I am doing a project to make an alarm system to help remind people on a lot of medication to take their tablets. The technology required to make the alarm system is fairly expensive, and I also have travel costs as I come to College from Acton. I had considered staying on at my school sixth form to do A levels, but decided the BTEC course suited me better so I came to Uxbridge College. My uncle has inspired me – he is also an engineer and he has graduated from university and is doing a Masters degree.”

Ehmal is taking three sciences and maths at AS level, which he progressed to after performing well in GCSEs at College. He plans to study medicine at university and is currently volunteering at Hillingdon Hospital. He said: “I live in Harrow and Wealdstone and while I could study nearer home, Uxbridge College is very welcoming and I definitely wanted to stay here after my GCSEs. The money helps me with my travel costs to College and to my volunteer job, where I help on the surgical ward, including feeding patients and helping them get ready to go home.”

Fortune is studying maths, further maths, physics and ICT at A level and plans to study accountancy and finance at university. He completed his GCSEs at college after coming to the UK from Milawi. He said: “I have a long journey to College, which the bursary will help me with, but I wanted to come to Uxbridge College because it is the number one college in West London and I wanted to go somewhere which had high standards. I want to get A and A* grades because I am hoping to get a scholarship from Milawi or the UK to go to university, which is important to me.”

Mattia is on the Access to Business course and plans to study Law at Manchester Metropolitan University, where he has a place. He said: “Information Technology is very important in Law and is used in so many different ways – I talked about this in my application and during the interview. I thought the bursary would help because I live quite far away from College, in Islington, but I think it is worth travelling because I am excited by the course at Uxbridge College. I don’t mind the journey – I can use the time to study or watch a movie.”

Dr Alastair Mullins, Director - 14 to 19 and the lead on STEM subjects, said: “Uxbridge College is very grateful to Nexen for its support for the development of STEM study and these bursaries are an important part of that. It can make an enormous difference to students to have this kind of support, and that is certainly the case for these four. We look forward to receiving the next round of applications.”

Nexen’s donation has also been used to support National Science and Engineering Week and to set up a STEM ambassador scheme.