Help us to get Marie to Harvard

Marie-Therese Png at Black British Business Awards 2015.

Marie-Therese Png at Black British Business Awards 2015.

Marie-Therese Png is an alumnus from the 2014 Powerlist Foundation Deloitte Leadership Programme (PFDLP) who has been accepted to study for her master’s degree at Harvard University in the United States. But she needs to raise at least £19,000 in the next couple of weeks to fulfil her dream.

She is hoping to raise the funds by crowd-funding. Marie is appealing for support from the Powerlist Foundation community to help her raise the funds.

Marie is completing her undergraduate degree in Human Sciences (Biological and Social Sciences) at the University of Oxford and is delighted to have been accepted into the Mind, Brain and Education (MBE) master’s program at Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

To receive a visa into the United States, she has to prove that she has sufficient funds to cover all her expenses for the year. In this case it is £50,000, but she is £19,000 short. She would ideally like to do that by 1st June but hopes to get a few days’ grace.

Marie is inspired by the successful crowd-funding efforts of PFDLP alumni Rachael Owhin who raised £10,000 in 10 days and Shani Page-Muir who raised £21,000 in 21 days to pay for their master’s tuition fees.

Shani said, “My main piece of advice to Marie would be to make sure she mobilises all networks and to really think about everyone that she knows, from school teachers to colleagues on various internships. From my campaign I realised that there were so many people who were willing do their part and support me. It’s humbling to see how you are part of such a community.”

For Marie to be successful, Rachael said, “You have to be relentless. You need to decide that you’re going to achieve your goal, by all means necessary, and truly go for it. That means sending countless emails and personal messages to your contacts, thinking of creative ways to share your story, and not allowing fear or criticism to impede your success.”

In the MBE programme, Marie’s research will look at the growing literature in Cognitive Neuroscience / Developmental Psychology which is reshaping understanding of racial prejudice and its manifestation in social institutions such as schools, media and policy.  “I also wish to understand the cognitive learning process of prejudice/implicit bias, on a neural and societal level, to facilitate its unlearning,” Marie said. Google have spearheaded this in their implementation of Unconscious Bias workshops, and the psychological effect of race and representation in education and knowledge is becoming increasingly apparent. “I hope to further my study into cognitive/psychological impacts of socio-economic disparities in education. As president of the Oxford Psychology and Neuroscience Application Society, I organised a talk to discuss barriers to academic success.

Marie, 21, is the middle sibling of three sisters, all of whom are at university. Their mother is a single parent working long hours. The family lives in Streatham, south London.

Marie’s mother is from St Lucia and father is Chinese. “Getting into Harvard is amazing but it is putting a lot of pressure on my mother financially,” Marie said. “Harvard promotes itself as a university where you can study no matter what your income background is but a combination of me being a post-grad and international student means that I have very limited access to the huge pot of funds available. The fees were unexpectedly high and we really need to find a way.

Harvard has provided £11,000 in financial aid, and her family has raised £20,000 through savings and loans. “To minimise the impact on my mother – who is currently handling three jobs and single-handedly supporting my two siblings at university – as well as my upcoming final exams, we are searching for ways to raise the final £19,000 through alternative means.

Marie adds: “I will ensure that whoever sponsors me will recover their investment, whether it is through my support of their cause, or working on a venture they may be spearheading.

Veronica Martin, Powerlist Foundation CEO, said, “The Powerlist Foundation’s motto is ‘Sharing Success with Tomorrow’s Leaders’ and we believe that postgraduate study helps to deliver the highest levels of skills and knowledge for the UK economy. We therefore intend to broaden and strengthen support for members of our alumni by launching a dedicated fund to enable those members who are most in need to access postgraduate studies in the UK or abroad.

To find out more about Marie’s story and support her towards her Harvard tuition fees, go to the fundraising page and spread the word using #MTIntoHarvard