Last summer I obtained a place on a Headstart Summer School on “Chemistry and Drug Design” at the University of Sussex. I was pretty apprehensive about the whole experience since there were 90 people at the summer school, 89 of whom were English and had no idea where Northern Ireland was!

We researched a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease known as the BACE1 inhibitor. As part of the course I made the molecule, analysed it, tested it to see if it worked and modeled it on a computer. During the week we had a quiz, formal dinner and a trip to GlaxoSmithKline in Brighton. On the penultimate day we summarised our work on a poster and presented it to Academic staff from the university. I won the outstanding achievement award for the Chemistry stream, which was just the perfect end to a perfect week.

I had an amazing time and genuinely loved every minute of the course and it really showed me how much I wanted to study Chemistry at university. I made some really good friends and enjoyed my “undergraduate” experience. I would really recommend Headstart to anyone who is considering doing a STEM degree at university.

By Ruth Crothers