Cambridgeshire

Cambridge University: Care-leaver graduate is college's first

Kasmira Kincaid Image copyright KASMIRA KINCAID
Image caption Kasmira Kincaid: "Not bad for someone who missed most of secondary school"

A young writer who has become the first care-leaver to graduate from her Cambridge college say she wants to inspire others to "beat the odds".

Kasmira Kincaid, 25, from Lampeter, Ceredigion, overcame a "chaotic" home life to attend Corpus Christi College.

Despite homelessness and foster care, she credits her early success to some "marvellously supportive teachers".

"I know the odds are stacked against you, but that doesn't mean it can't happen," she said,

Ms Kincaid used social media to announce her graduation with a 2:1 BA Honours degree in English Literature.

"Not bad for someone who missed most of secondary school, went through half a dozen foster placements, was homeless at 16, and completed her A-levels living alone on benefits," she tweeted.

She is now writing her first novel.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Ms Kincaid has graduated from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The college bears the striking Corpus Clock on the corner of the library

Growing up in Andalusia, Spain, she moved to the UK in 2010, aged 15.

Within a year she found herself living in homeless shelters before "moving around" in foster care.

She said she attended nine different schools, missing two whole years from 13 to 15, during which she taught herself.

"When I became homeless after the end of my GCSEs, I had to take a year out," she said.

"My attendance wasn't great, but I had some marvellously supportive teachers."

She gained 4 A*s in her A Levels, and described her application to Cambridge as "daunting".

Amy Bottomley, president of Class Act, a Cambridge University group that supports minority and working class students, said care-experienced students could be apprehensive about university social life and whether they might fit in.

"Socio-economic privilege can often feel taboo at Cambridge," she said.

"But there is a dedicated team of staff on hand to support care leavers and estranged students."

You may also like:

Corpus Christi senior tutor, Dr Marina Frasca-Spada, described Ms Kincaid as a "formidably clever and resilient young woman".

"She is both scholarly and very creative, so, while studying for her degree, she has also published a number of short stories, contributed pieces to the national press, and written a novel," she said.

"We are delighted with her success, and proud to have her as a member of our community."

Image copyright KASMIRA KINCAID
Image caption Class of 2020: Kasmira Kincaid (second right, at the back) graduated from Corpus Christi College

Ms Kincaid said: "Cambridge can be quite alienating at times, but there are a lot of different clubs and societies, so no matter how weird you think you are you can always find your niche.

"Don't worry if things don't go your way on the first, second, or hundredth try. Just keep going. You will get there."

Find BBC News: East of England on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. If you have a story suggestion email eastofenglandnews@bbc.co.uk

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites