A level student Soniya Aryal has been offered a Warwick University scholarship to study for a degree in mechanical engineering.

The 18-year-old, who is studying at the Banbury Aspirations Campus, is delighted with her achievement which is all the more special as she only arrived in the market town from Nepal three years ago.

Soniya is the only girl from the Sixth Form, which includes Futures Institute, and has been rated outstanding by Ofsted, to have applied to study mechanical engineering. Under the terms of the prestigious scholarship she will receive mentoring, 50% off tuition fees and a £2,000 a year bursary.

The teenager is taking four A Levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry. She is predicted two A*’s an A and a B so will exceed the grade entry point for the course of triple A’s.

Soniya is the first to admit the ongoing support and encouragement from teachers has been vital to her academic success and helped her to overcome the obstacles she encountered.

Speaking ahead of a Wykham Park Academy Sixth Form open evening this Thursday (Jan 23), she told the Banbury Guardian: ‘’I was 15-years-old when I was sent to Wykham Park and I was a bit scared as everything was so different and the school system was different to what I had been used to. In Nepal I had been studying at a boarding school.

‘’Although I had been learning English as a second language in Nepal, when I came to Wykham Park I had a few lessons to make sure I could understand the classes I was taking. The teachers are so kind and supportive here. They will go to any length to help you and I never felt alone.

‘’The resources at Futures Institute are great and it specialises in STEM based subjects so there is a science focus and the teachers are so knowledgeable.’’

According to statistics released by charity the Women’s Engineering Society last year, the fairer sex make up just 12.3% of all engineers in the UK and only one in five of jobs are held by women in the wider engineering sector as a whole.

Soniya is proud to be part of a new generation helping to buck this trend and revealed it was a week-long school trip to NASA which inspired her to pursue mechanical engineering. The trip is unique to the Aspirations Academies Trust and sees Sixth Form students from across the trust selected to go.

She said: ‘’I’ve always loved maths, physics and chemistry and wanted to study engineering because I like learning about how things are made and how they actually work. I also wanted to do something different and out of my comfort zone.

‘’Going on the NASA trip and speaking to the experts there, I realised I wanted to study mechanical engineering as you can go into any field.’’

Soniya has also completed work experience with Collins Aerospace and a Nuffield Research Placement.

Carly Berry, Head of Banbury Aspirations Campus Sixth Form and Assistant Principal, said: ‘’We’re all very proud of Soniya’s achievements and he Warwick University scholarship is a great opportunity for her.’’

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