Coming to Durham through the STEP Summer School

Angelina Johnson

The American dream was not a reality for me

I dreamed of the American university lifestyle like the ones you see in the movies.  I had my whole life planned, I even visited the university I wanted to go to, but then the reality of the cost, mixed with the course complexities hit and I thought my dream and future were lost. 

Russell Group matched my aspirations

I still wanted to go to university, and read law, and I aspired to study at the best British university. I knew the reputation of Russell Group universities matched my aspiration. My sixth form participated in the STEP program, which means Space to Explore Potential, which introduced me to Durham University. Later in my STEP journey, I discovered a hidden bonus: Durham University operates a collegiate system very similar to America’s; suddenly, my dream and future seemed possible again. However, I was reluctant to apply due to the perception of Russell Group universities not being culturally diverse or supportive of black ethnic minority students especially those from Caribbean backgrounds.  

Therefore, when I saw that Durham offered a programme unlike any other of the Russell Group universities and they partnered with Reach Society I was filled with confidence to apply. I participated in many Reach Society events so Durham’s involvement was an endorsement of the university’s serious intention to make significant changes in being more inclusive. 

STEP Summer School

The STEP programme summer school helped me realise that I did not want to study Law straight away but rather read Business Management with a year abroad, which gave me the option later to undertake a conversion into Law. My summer school was online (due to Covid-19) but it still showcased Durham well through the games, talks and quizzes. It was very interactive and informative, and the effort that Durham University had put into the programme was clear.   I felt I could trust Durham’s credentials as a university that values diversity and seeks to be more diverse.  

STEP helped my dreams become reality

I will always be grateful for the opportunities provided by STEP because they really helped shape my dream into reality. That’s why I recommend STEP, especially to students who may or may not be sure about university. Although STEP promoted Durham University the programme supports the undergraduate journey and highlights to black minority ethnic students that they have every right to attend and thrive in Russel Group universities. 

Angelina recently took part in the podcast ‘Behind the Curtain’ watch below

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Angelina Johnson


I’m Angelina a second-year undergraduate at Durham University reading Business and Management with a year abroad and I am from South College. I’m also one of the first STEP alumni, as well as the current Durham University African Caribbean Society (ACS) President.


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