Ann-Marie Jay

Final Year Earth Sciences Student

Ann-Marie was in foster care when she applied to study at the University of Oxford. She’s keen to encourage other children and care leavers to follow in her footsteps.

I’ve always been curious. My parents were very encouraging when I asked how things worked and why things happened. If they didn’t know the answer themselves, they helped me look it up elsewhere.

Science and maths sparked my interest because they helped to answer my questions. Now I know that scientists are still trying to answer as many questions as I asked when I was younger!

While I was applying to university, I moved in with a foster carer. She had not been to university but she was extremely supportive. Although she didn’t understand much science, she was prepared to hold conversations with me to maintain my enthusiasm.

There is a lot that geologists don’t yet understand about our planet. My course covers everything from earthquakes and volcanoes, to oceans and the Earth’s core. It’s pretty awesome being able to say that I’m trying to find answers that other scientists haven’t figured out yet!

My degree is challenging, but I am determined to succeed. I have completed some fantastic projects, including making my own geological map of an area. Right now, I am working in a laboratory where I get to melt rock chips with a very powerful laser – pretty cool! It’s one of the ways geologists find out what different rocks are made of.

I have been involved in a lot of outreach events through the university and various charities. My original plan was to work for a mining company as an exploration geologist, but that has changed. Now I hope to help support looked after children and care leavers like myself, and encourage them to choose university as an option.

Best advice

Don’t just go by what your teacher says. Ask how things work and why things happen. Be inquisitive and try to find answers online if you can – the internet is a great resource.

How do you relax?

I enjoy being part of an orchestra. At one point I was considering studying music but I decided that my true talents lay in science.