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A letter to my Year 12 self - by alumna Jemima Cuthbertson

A letter to my Year 12 self - by alumna Jemima Cuthbertson

Jemima Cuthbertson, St Mary’s alumna and former Head Girl, currently studying Postgraduate Law at Cambridge University, looks back on her time at St Mary’s and shares some words of advice with her Year 12 self.


Dear Jemima in Year 12,


You are 17 years old and already part way through your St Mary’s experience. You don’t know it yet, but the next two years will be the best yet. Sixth Form brings life-long friends, shapes your career dreams and opens up opportunities you cannot yet imagine.

Five years after leaving Sixth Form, here are my words of advice to you:


Find your passion and stick with it

By Year 12, you already know history is your thing. Way back in Year 8, Mr Peachy first ignited your interest, when lessons began with his fascinating ‘what happened on this day in history’ facts. You loved the idea that seemingly ordinary days can be the start of something remarkable or life-changing.

For a history geek like you, the day in early March 1917, when Tsar Nicholas II abdicated, ending the Romanov dynasty in the Russian revolution – will become a much-studied, important date! Stick with your passion, an amazing university experience is only just around the corner.


Share your journey with great friends

Your Sixth Form friends will become your friends for life. They are a support system for the future. Make the most of the days ahead, share your adventures and make brilliant memories.


Experience the difference you can make

What you learn outside the classroom is just as important. Grab the opportunity to help with the Lourdes fundraising fortnight, enjoy learning to be a mentor, take the lead as Head Girl. All these experiences will instil an understanding of how you can support others and give back to society.


Try everything

Now is the time to learn and try new things. Discover what really interests you – in the classroom, on the sports field, music room and textiles suite. You will learn new skills and values that shape your future in ways you cannot realise today.


Aim high and set your own goals

Set yourself goals. These can be practical university or job choices, or bigger dreams. Five years later, I see how helpful this was in motivating myself and having purpose. Make clear short and long term goals, it will give you direction and enable you to take regular, small steps on the road to achieving them.


Think ahead

Looking back, I know as Head Girl you want to create a fab Sixth Form Ball and your medium-term aim is to get the grades for Exeter University. You can do this! Long-term, you are already thinking about being a solicitor. As I write, I am still on this journey. Keeping this clear goal over the past five years has set me ahead of my peers because I already have legal work experience under my belt. I am very grateful for this, especially when writing job applications or in interview situations.


Hard work is worth the reward

I have learnt that with passion, hard work and small steps in the right direction anything is possible. So, set your goals, strive to be the best version of yourself, say yes to opportunities and aim high!


And finally …

Remember … in just five years, you will have completed a history degree at the University of Exeter and will be studying Postgraduate Law at Cambridge University. Your dream will happen.



Jemima, Aged 21


P.S. Remember to enjoy every second. You won’t realise how much you loved school until you leave!