Getting accepted onto her dream university course is a moment Jade Gilbert will remember for a long time.
The 18-year-old was over the moon when she found out she had been awarded a place at Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon University (RGU), to study Contemporary Art Practice (CAP).
Former Northfield Academy pupil Jade said it had been her dream to develop her love of art for a long time but it wasn’t until she got involved with the Access to Creative Education Scotland (ACES) programme at RGU that she started to consider it as a viable option for further study and a career.
The ACES programme is a national initiative funded by the Scottish Funding Council and delivered locally by RGU which aims to encourage and support pupils who are often underrepresented in art, design and architecture towards studying the subjects at university.
The programme, which is about to enter its third year at RGU, is coordinated by the university’s Study Skills and Access Unit and developed in partnership with Aberdeen City Council.
Jade first undertook a 15-week taster art course at Gray’s in her fifth year at school and felt that she benefited from it so much that she came back for a second time during her final year.
“Being part of ACES was a truly great experience and I was lucky to be given such a great opportunity,” Jade said.
“I have wanted to study art at Gray’s for a long time and being part of this group over the two years has helped me become more confident. I’ve been given so much support and help with applying, as well as understanding the interview and selection process, which made me more confident when I applied.”
She added: “When I received my offer for university I was extremely excited – this was something that I had been inspired by and working toward since I was in primary school.
“When it finally came true, it was almost unbelievable but at the same time it was a huge relief, as it was like all my hard work and effort at school had finally paid off.”
Jade started her university course this month and felt that her participation in the ACES programme also helped calm any nerves she had about taking the next step in her education.
“I’ve met lots of like-minded people who share a passion for art and who are also going to the art school and I have become familiar with the school, lecturers and the uni itself, which has been very beneficial to me,” she said.
“I really enjoyed being part of the university atmosphere before actually starting myself – it gave me a good understanding of what it was like which made me so much more confident and took away the fear that I had about starting.
“I would say to anyone that is thinking of going down the art or architecture route, that ACES is a brilliant and unmissable opportunity that will help you on your journey and you shouldn’t miss out.”
Among the things she is most looking forward to experiencing as part of her course, Jade lists working with other who are passionate about art, learning new things and getting to try out new methods of making art.
She said: “I really just want to get stuck in to my course and start learning and experiencing. Something I really hope to do is to work with the group of lecturers and staff who run ACES and give back the experiences and help that I benefited from to other young students who want to study art or architecture at RGU. I’ll never forget the help that I got, so I want to pass that on.”
RGU Study Skills and Access Unit coordinator, James Dunphy, said: “The ACES programme forms an important part of the university’s commitment to widening access, giving young people an insight into what it would be like to study art and architecture at Robert Gordon University.
“We are delighted to welcome Jade, as well as a number of other pupils who took part in the ACES programme, back to the university as fully-fledged RGU students.”