Sam Walker’s journey to success
Published on 5 August 2022
The Robertson Trust’s Journey to Success programme supports Scottish students from challenging backgrounds to access university education. Sam Walker, shares the impact his scholarship had on his life.
Sam Walker wanted to be a musician when he was younger. Growing up in Dundee he had no ambition to go to university, but that all changed when he attended St John’s and met his new teacher Miss McCafferty who saw his potential and helped him to believe that he could achieve something better.
"I was the first person in my family, and the only person in my group of friends at school to go to university. I was a totally different person when I finished than when I started, you learn about yourself as well," explained Sam.
"Being from Dundee I had my friends from school, and a job, and didn’t want to leave the city. I wasn’t ready to uproot my life and didn’t want the pressure of living alone. Going to university was a huge step for me, but it was a risk I felt was worth taking. I knew that not everyone gets the opportunity and decided to just go for it. Speaking to other people, I heard that Dundee was highly regarded, especially for accountancy which is what I wanted to do. So, studying at the University of Dundee seemed like the best option, and meant I could still stay at home."
Sam’s school nominated him to be a Robertson Scholar, so he applied and was accepted. As a Robertson Scholar, Sam received £4,000 per annum and participated in the Journey to Success programme, which Sam attributes to his success.
The Class of 1974 Medics came together as a group to support the next generation of medical students by donating to the fund. Over two years they raised over £30,000 to fund three medical students.
"The Robertson scheme is so good and so well organised. And it’s not just about the money – it’s about the support."
(Medicine, Class of 1974)
"Being a Robertson Scholar made a huge difference, I don’t know how far I would have got at university had I not received the support. There were some people I knew in a similar position like me, who didn’t have that support and some of them left. It took the pressure from having to work a lot of hours because you had the financial support, especially towards the end of my degree, I was able to cut down on my hours and focus on study to better myself.
"At the beginning, there was an outward-bound course and a chance to meet people before starting university. Then there were workshops, each with a different focus, these made me think about things differently and assess myself. Receiving this support gave me the extra incentive to go for it, giving me the belief that I could do it, I had extra support. I was given a mentor, George, who was a Chartered Accountant, he was a great support. I still keep in touch with people from the Robertson Scholarships."
Dr Annie Doyle, Scholarship Training Manager at The Robertson Trust values the relationship with the University.
"Our ongoing agreement increases the number of young people who can participate in our self-development programme through match funding, which creates connections with university staff. Together we are able to ensure each Robertson Scholar both completes their degree to a high standard and is fully prepared for life after graduation," said Annie.
On graduating in 2019 with a BA Accounting, Sam was accepted onto EQ Chartered Accountant’s Graduate Trainee scheme and hopes soon to qualify as a Chartered Accountant (CA).
Sam continued, "It’s going really well, every day is different and people in the office are just so friendly. That’s probably one of the things I love the most is that I get involved in so many different things that I never realised I would have the opportunity to do. I’ve got just one ICAS exam left to do and then I’ll be a qualified CA. I’ve been given responsibility and they have confidence in me. And our office is at the Quay in Dundee, it’s always sunny, a great location!"
Rachel Bell, Partner, EQ Chartered Accountants, has been very impressed by Sam and his fellow University of Dundee graduates.
Rachel said, "The calibre of graduates from Dundee has always been excellent, and Sam is no exception. Not only do they have a great basis of knowledge, but their people skills and understanding of what’s required of them in the workplace is great. When Sam joined us for the summer in 2018 as an intern, he made a great impression and was keen to get involved right away. He then re-joined EQ in 2019 to undertake his CA qualification after graduating from the University. He learned quickly and progressed within the firm, helping other trainees and members of the team as he has developed his own skills and progressed towards his qualification.
"Our trainees tend to stay with us after their training contract as they can see the opportunities we provide as a firm – some of them are now partners and managers, including myself. I graduated from the University in 2008 and joined as Sam did as a graduate trainee. I look back fondly at my experience, undertaking a degree in accountancy helped me decide its where I wanted to focus my career and it’s where I made some of my closest friends."
Sam still enjoys music and plays in bands in his spare time. But going to university and being a Robertson Scholar changed his life. It has given him a future that he wouldn’t have imagined possible.
Sam explained, "A gift of any size can make a lot of difference and can help someone so much. You never know who that person is going to become. So if you can, please, donate to the University’s Robertson Scholar fund. Your gift will be doubled with match funding from the Robertson Trust, and transform the lives of other students like me, so it’s a win-win!"
The Robertson Trust’s Journey to Success programme supports Scottish students from challenging backgrounds to access university education. Journey to Success develops skills such as resilience, networking, communication and self-confidence. Your donations are matched by the Robertson Trust providing an annual scholarship of £4,000 for a Robertson Scholar, enabling young Scots who have the ability, but not the means, to access a first-class education.