Lorena Piedrahita-Lopez: Journey from CTK to Cambridge: A Story of Resilience and Achievement

Recently graduating from Cambridge University with a First Class Degree in Human, Social, and Political Sciences, and ranking 9th in her cohort, read about Lorena’s Journey from CTK to Cambridge: A Story of Resilience and Achievement 

June 27, 2024 

From Coloma Convent Girls School to CTK 

Lorena’s academic journey began at Coloma Convent Girls School, but it was her move to CTK Emmanuel that marked a significant turning point. “I moved to CTK Emmanuel as I enjoyed the wide selection of subjects. However, I also liked the building itself – it felt less like a sixth form, which I really enjoyed as it helped me transition through the educational stages,” she recalls. 

Although the pandemic meant much of her learning happened online, Lorena fondly remembers her time at CTK. She highlights three main aspects that made her experience memorable: the focus on independent study, the friendly environment, and the supportive staff. “I appreciated the big focus on independent study,” she says, valuing the freedom to schedule her study time. The welcoming atmosphere helped her form lasting friendships, and the teachers’ encouragement played a crucial role in her academic growth, “Teachers were always willing to give me extra feedback or advice regarding work. Still, they were also very welcoming, so I never felt afraid to ask for support when needed. With this supportive environment, I finally started taking an upward projection in terms of my academic work .CTK was also the first place I was told I could apply to Cambridge – something I had never considered.” 

 A Tough Yet Transformative Transition to Cambridge 

Lorena’s transition to Cambridge University was not without challenges. “I’m always sincere and say that I had a tough transition and experience at Cambridge. However, it’s not a decision I regret, as it’s made me who I am today,” she states. Studying at Homerton College, known for its inclusive environment, provided some solace. Yet, she faced cultural adjustments and instances of bias that made her feel out of place. 

Despite these challenges, Lorena found a supportive community of students and eventually adjusted. “After passing my first year, things kept going up as I was no longer a new student who didn’t know anything,” she says. Her determination paid off as she graduated with a First class in Human, Social, and Political Sciences, specialising in Sociology, ranking 9th in her cohort. 

Passions Beyond Academics 

Outside of her degree, Lorena found joy in reading and crocheting. “Having a creative outlet benefited my mental health,” she explains. Cambridge also offered her a platform for activism, allowing her to engage in social justice initiatives. Notably, she was involved in “Homerton For Consent” and student politics, advocating for marginalised students and tackling gender-based violence. 

Lorena has also been heavily involved in student polictics – being the BME officer for Homerton College in 2022/23 and the Target and Access officer in 2023/24 

Advice for Future Students 

Reflecting on her journey, Lorena advises students to embrace the unpredictability of university life. “Part of preparing for university life is knowing you’ll never be fully prepared,” she admits. She emphasizes financial responsibility and advises against trying to complete every piece of assigned work, particularly for Oxbridge students. “Courses are designed to provide you with large amounts of work that you can’t finish. Trying to get everything done will burn you out,” she warns. 

Looking Ahead: Ambitions and Advocacy 

Having graduated, Lorena plans to take a break from formal education to focus on activism. She is involved with the LAWRS Young Women’s Advisory Board and has secured part-time position with the University of Cambridge, focusing on combating institutional racism and decolonisation efforts. “I look forward to working with British-Latinx communities to support and uplift my community,” she says. 

Her ultimate goal is clear: “I want to work towards making the world a better place, even if it’s just making a small change.” 

Words to Her Former Self 

If she could offer advice to her former self, Lorena would emphasize self-belief. “Believe in yourself more! I know it’s sometimes hard to do, but always trust your abilities,” she advises. Her journey from CTK to Cambridge underscores the importance of resilience, self-advocacy, and the impact of a supportive educational environment.