Hannah Gaffey – A story of hope, resilience and success

An English Language & Linguistics student has managed to achieve the unimaginable. Through her boundless determination and fierce devotion, Hannah Gaffey will continue to pursue her dream of making education accessible for all.

The scholarship programme developed by Future Finance is an innovative project in search of postgraduate students who are driven by the ambition to become successful in their respective discipline, with over 730 applicants from 382 different universities that applied for this extraordinary opportunity. After a competitive vetting process, 13 finalists were eventually shortlisted before the winner was selected through public voting. With over 15,000 votes pouring in to endorse these hopeful students, both the Queen Mary and East London communities joined forces in support of Hannah and her inspiring goal. 

On the 13th of August 2019, she finally received the astonishing announcement: Hannah was the recipient of the 20,000 £ scholarship. She can now buoyantly embrace her place at Murray Edwards College, Cambridge for an MPhil in education, globalization and international development without the worrisome financial burden to drag her down. What an awe-inspirational moment for any young graduate. Nonetheless, this is not just Hannah’s success, but the triumph of a whole community. More importantly, her accomplishment symbolizes a beacon of hope for the people who cannot access the education they deserve.

However, her win seems to have been clear from the start. After all, when Future Finance’s CEO Olga Dolchenko extended her congratulations to the lucky recipient, she enunciated how “Hannah’s story stood out to us because she shares our passion for making education accessible to all.” With this generous grant, she will surely achieve that very goal and continue to tirelessly advocate for the just cause of accessible education. Hannah has become a prime example for displaying how hard work truly does pay off, as her journey even caught the attention of Grazia. Still in utter shock, yet unbelievably grateful for this gratuitous opportunity, Hannah stated “After eight months of campaigning, fundraising and worrying, a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders. I could never have achieved this without the support network of friends, family and my local community. […] I am extremely proud to be Future Finance’s ambassador because we share the same ethos for education for all, regardless of background or economic situation.” 

Yet her accomplishments didn’t stop there. Hannah’s abiding determination towards education has been evident since the beginning of her studies. Her time at Queen Mary speaks for itself, as she was not only a Sports Camp Coach for the Students’ Union but also launched her own fundraising campaign with the hashtag #TeesforFees to celebrate the inspirational women in her life. In addition, she raised over a 1,000 £ for the breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel!, as well as further collaborations with local charities including Macmillan Cancer Support, Bloody Good Period, Judah’s Cloud and the Meningitis Research Foundation. Next to facilitating a plethora of charitable events on the university’s campus, her time with Restless Development, a youth-led developmental organisation whose mission is “to place young people at the forefront of change and development”, allowed her to be part of a hands-on project across the globe, as she had the opportunity to offer non-formal education in classrooms in Tamil Nadu, South India.

Subsequently, it becomes clear how Hannah’s global awareness and remarkable participation made her stand out from the 730 other applicants. However, rather than her being the lucky recipient of this annual scholarship, I believe that Future Finance is quite fortunate to have found such a humanitarian and persevering student as their newest ambassador. Ahead of Hannah’s move to Cambridge in October, she is currently volunteering for the UWC Red Cross in Norway. Hannah Gaffey undoubtedly remains an inspiration to us all, as her generous and diligent spirit continues to surpass any obstacles coming her way.

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