Santander scholar on path to career in STEM

An engineer at the University of Leicester has become one of the first beneficiaries of a scheme designed to enhance opportunities for women in STEM.

Penny Gunn is a final-year Aerospace Engineering student and is one of 30 women from across the UK supported by the STEMships programme, as part of the University’s partnership with Santander Universities UK.

Santander Universities UK work with 84 institutions across the UK to focus their philanthropy on education, employability and entrepreneurship.

The STEMships project – launched earlier by Santander and their ambassador Jenson Button, a Formula One World Champion – aims to provide female engineers with the tools and resources they will need to succeed in their chosen field after university.

Support is delivered through leadership and networking opportunities with industry experts and motivational figures, membership to the Women’s Engineering Society, as well as real-world experience in the engineering sector and financial support for studies.

Penny said:

“Receiving the scholarship has meant a great deal to me as I have been able to meet fellow female engineers studying at different universities across the country.

“Engineering is still a heavily male-dominated subject, so meeting more women in the sector has been great. It’s both comforting and inspiring that there are more and more women entering the field of engineering.

“I’ve also been given the opportunity to pursue my studies outside of university, which I wouldn’t have been able to do without the help of the scholarship.

“Before the scholarship I didn’t really know where to start with networking, and meeting people in the engineering industry. But since then I have attended Women’s Engineering Society events with other students and professionals and met other female engineers.

“I am very grateful for this opportunity, as it has opened many new doors for me and enhanced my university experience.”

The University collaborates with Santander Universities UK on a wide range of projects designed to support students both during their studies and as they embark on the first stage of their careers.

Elsewhere, Physics graduate Domingo Armengol Arcas has received an Entrepreneurship Bursary to kick start his Uni Cycle Solutions enterprise, while Marketing student Amy Tetsola has received support for her studies and to create her own social media marketing agency.

Domingo said:

“This year has been a hard year for everyone, and especially new businesses, but the support I have received gave me the opportunity to work on my business full time.

“Since my journey started one year ago, I can surely say that no one ever could have taught me what I have learned on this journey, and this could not have been possible without my first mentor Shaun Lynes, Leicester Innovation Hub and Santander, who provided the financial support to make it happen.”

Amy added:

“This support has allowed me to invest in my education as well as other personal endeavours such as the potential starting of my own social media marketing agency.

“As someone who prefers to do things practically, I was very much able to learn and work effectively and positively amongst a group of great individuals.”

Other projects include the Employ Autism Higher Education network in partnership with Ambitious About Autism, which offers a platform for neurodiverse students and graduates, and Sanctuary Scholarships to reduce the barriers to participation in higher education faced by those seeking asylum in the UK.