James Pantefedwyn Foundation

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Ryan Smith

Receiving a scholarship from the James Pantyfedwen Foundation was a game-changer for my postgraduate education. With their support, I successfully completed an MPhil in Sociology at the University of Cambridge.

I took this opportunity with both hands, deepening my understanding of how societal forces influence people’s access to opportunities, resources, and power. The scholarship also enabled me to put what I’d learned into practice: I was elected as Welfare Officer at Darwin College and worked hard to make the College a more equitable place, I became a mentor for prospective students from widening participation backgrounds, and organised events relating to social justice.

My researched focused on how class influences mental health. Statistical analyses revealed that class is a statistically significant indicator of mental ill-health in South Wales. I then sought to understand this in the context of people’s everyday experiences and conducted fieldwork, confirming that social and economic environments greatly impact people’s emotional wellbeing. A key finding from this research is that we need to shift mental health discourse away from individual responsibility and towards the root causes, i.e., social inequalities.

This experience has affirmed just how important it is for academia to be genuinely representative of the world it attempts to interpret. I look forward to applying for a PhD, and sincerely hope that, as time goes by, more working-class people will participate in postgraduate education and make vital contributions to the production of knowledge in society. Diolch o galon to the James Pantyfedwen Foundation for continuing to make people’s dreams a reality.