A First Year at University Like No Other

Published 15 June 2021

Since 2016, ORE Catapult has proudly supported STEM at Levenmouth Academy, just a short gust away from our Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine. We sponsor a Principle Teacher for STEM in the school, as well as multiple related extra-curricular clubs and activities.

In 2020, ORE Catapult and Levenmouth Academy created the Aspire Bursary, awarded to an outstanding pupil, selected by the faculty, to support them in their continued study of STEM-related subjects at University. As well as financial support for the duration of their University course, the Catapult provides mentoring with one of our own team to offer any advice and assistance with the transition to higher education and the future world of work.

The first recipient of the Aspire Bursary is Cailyn Calder, studying Physics at Glasgow University. This is Cailyn’s blog, giving her thoughts on her first year at university and her experience working with her ORE Catapult mentor, Project Manager Heather McLarty.


“I have just completed my first year of university, completely online and without even moving to the city. Before I started, I was so excited to move to Glasgow and finally do all the things I wanted to. Of course, things did not really go to plan.

I may have been awarded the Aspire Bursary for my achievement in high school, but at that time I was also probably struggling more than most people in my year. It also did not help that the lockdown started, and for a while I had to pay for accommodation in Glasgow that I never actually moved to. The bursary really helped me to afford that. It also helps that the bursary was paid out in August, because student loan payments are not early enough for the first accommodation payments of the year.

Despite everything though, I really enjoyed online university for the most part, and I think I still got to experience first year well. I was able to take part in a range of different classes, and the lecturers were all fantastic. The online lectures felt a lot more intimate to me, offering the chance for students to really talk to each other and the lecturer. Some lectures were pre-recorded, or the videos were watched live in the lecture slots, which gave great opportunities to ask questions when we likely would not have been able to normally.

I think I got used to university work and studying fairly well throughout the year, which was helped a lot by my ORE Catapult mentor Heather. Our chats were mostly just to catch up and discuss any problems, but they made me feel a lot less lonely and got me really thinking about how I can study better and try to work on my career a bit more. If not for the mentorship, I probably would not have really thought about study technique or getting prepared for internships. I now feel more confident and proactive about my career.

Overall, ORE Catapult and the Aspire bursary have helped me to enjoy my first year at university despite current issues, and to really make the most of it by helping me to study effectively and think to the future. Thank you!”