The Student Social Mobility Awards ceremony will be held at the House of Lords this Thursday (09/09)Lena Varzar/UNSPLASH

Olivia Taylor, a finalist in Psychological and Behavioural Sciences (PBS) at Clare College, has been shortlisted in this year’s Student Social Mobility Awards. Taylor has been nominated for two categories: Champion of Social Mobility and Outstanding Achievement.

The awards, which were created in 2018 by the charity upReach, celebrate the achievements of undergraduates and sixth-formers who excel in their studies, as well as students, universities, and employers who actively promote social mobility.

Taylor is one of 26 undergraduates in this year’s shortlist, which was selected from over 300 nominations to 28 award categories. The winners will be announced by the judging panel - which comprises 12 leading figures from academia, education, the creative industries, and business - at a ceremony held at the House of Lords in London this Thursday (09/09).

The Outstanding Achievement Award is determined by a combination of the judging panel’s verdict and a student vote that was held in July.

Having previously been to the House of Lords to watch the 2019 Awards ceremony, Taylor said it was “humbling” to attend this year’s event as a shortlisted nominee. 

In a statement to Varsity, Taylor commented that she sees the ceremony “as a celebration of social mobility rather than a competition. Everyone attending is a team towards this goal, they are valuable allies and friends [...] I’m honoured to be counted amongst these people who have dedicated their time, lives and stories to improving social mobility.

“I’ve never done what I do for awards or recognition, but for my hard work to have been noticed meant an awful lot.”

Taylor continued: “I am from a low income background - I am one of only 1% of Cambridge undergraduates to have grown up on Free School Meals. I was the first in my family to not just attend university, but to go on to further education as well. 

“I also received a late diagnosis of dyslexia in 2019 (my first year of University) and have dealt with various mental health issues alongside my studies.”

Over the past year, Taylor served as Publicity Officer for Student Community Action (SCA) Cambridge, previously volunteering with the charity as a companion to an elderly lady in a care home, and as the leader of Bounce, a youth club for disadvantaged children. 


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She is also operations manager at the charity Role Models Yorkshire, helping create the RM Hub, a website that provides young people with revision tips, information on applying to university and finding an apprenticeship, and guides to careers and starting a business.

Taylor was recognised in this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Social Impact Awards for her work with Student Community Action. 

John Craven, Chief Executive of upReach, commented in a press release: “This year, the effects of the pandemic have exacerbated existing socioeconomic inequalities, making aspirational events like the Student Social Mobility Awards more important than ever before.”

Craven continued: “The Awards shine a spotlight on inspirational role models who have often shown incredible resilience, determination and initiative to succeed despite the challenges of the pandemic, and often overcoming barriers linked with coming from a less-privileged background.”