Good afternoon everyone, my name is Mumtaz and I was a student here eight years ago. I would like to start by congratulating all of the Prize Winners and thanking you all for inviting me to share this special occasion with you. It feels like not so long ago that I was sat in your seats at our own Prize Giving. I have memories of feeling proud and inspired and I hope that today I can help you all feel the same way.
Today I am going to talk to you about my journey; which began at St George’s, helping me to get where I am today. The school motto still resonates strongly within me – “Aim Higher”, but even more than that – “Dream Big”.
My time at St George’s started in 2002. My family and I lived on Sun Lane (‘the house over the bridge’) and I was really excited to be coming to school here. St George’s, to me, became a huge and amazing family. I made some incredible friends here, many of whom I still have now and I am sure we will go on to be friends for life. The support we have here at St George’s is truly amazing. I was a great believer in the House system and extremely proud to have been House Captain for Goddard House. From choreographing a dance routine to High School Musical, to arranging the first ‘Bollywood Night’ for charity that St George’s has ever seen, we had a fantastic time.
During my Sixth Form years, I studied Maths, English Literature, Biology and Chemistry. The sciences did not come naturally to me and I had considered alternatives, such as French/English/Philosophy, but I decided to apply to study medicine. I felt passionate about undertaking a career in which I could help and significantly change the lives of others and this is what I dreamt of doing.
I worked hard throughout my A levels, and I hoped for good results. Unfortunately, despite my best efforts, my application to medicine was met with a rejection… and another rejection… then two more rejections after that. I narrowly missed my A level grades, which also left me with slim chances in the re-application process. Disappointing results… And what felt like the end of the world for me.
During the summer after finishing I was forced to explore alternative options. I came across the path of studying Biomedical Science with the potential for transfer across to medicine after completion of the first three years. However ‘hard core science’ was definitely not what I had in mind and I knew that competition to transfer would be tough (160 places on the course and only 10 - 20 places for transfer). The only saving grace was that the course was at St George’s University – my family said I had loved St George’s so much that I had to find a new one… (My dad also said if St George was still around I would probably marry him!)
Biomedical Science would be extremely tough, no doubt, with no guarantee of achieving my end goal. However I had my hopes set on medicine and I was willing to try and climb that mountain backwards if that’s what it would take.
The course was intense, as I had expected. The lab work was gruelling, the lectures were hard, and at times it was difficult to see any light at the end of the tunnel. However studying Biomed taught me one of life’s most important lessons to date “life is about the journey and not the destination”. It was to my surprise that I had an unforgettable university experience and most importantly I felt extremely grateful for the people I met along the way. So it turns out what they say is true “what doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger”. (Or as Drake would say; “Started from the bottom, now we’re here”).
I am delighted to say that I was in fact successful in transferring to medicine and I qualified as a doctor two years ago. I am currently working as a doctor in London and looking back on my journey I would not change any part of it. I love my job, I have been enjoying London life and I am lucky to be surrounded by amazing people. I have a mini baking business (on the side) and I enjoy baking to help people celebrate special occasions. I am about to start the next part of my adventure as I am going to take a year out. I hope to travel, do some charity work and look forward to the new challenges that await me (including my first half marathon!)
So now you have heard my story, what are my main messages to you today?
Firstly, if you believe you can, you have to work hard but make sure you work smart too and focus on the things which truly matter to you. If you look around you right now and have to bet on who you think will succeed, I hope you all bet on yourselves because each and every one of you can and will achieve. Many of my friends have taken different paths since school and that’s not just university. We can all celebrate in the fact that life “is about the journey”, and we are all enjoying the ride.
Secondly, I urge you to be grateful. I left St George’s with a big love for everyone here and I am eternally grateful for all of the help and support I received. Mr Day, Mr Storrie and Mrs Theakston, to name a few, have all helped me on this journey and I believe that St George’s really does provide us with strong foundations to excel and achieve. Appreciate those around you because without the truly amazing people I have been lucky to have in my life, I would undoubtedly not be standing here today. Kindness is free so sprinkle that stuff everywhere. Be there for others and when the time comes they will be there for you too.
My final message which I would like you to take home with you today, is that if you believe, then you can. If you want to do something, do it! Life is too short – ‘take the trip, buy the shoes, eat the cake!’ Thank you all once again for the privilege of being here today. If I can do it, then you most definitely can too and remember – never let anyone dull your sparkle - ‘Aim Higher, Dream BIG’. Thank you very much.