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Volunteer Story - Laura Bradby

Volunteer Story – Laura Bradby

Hi! I’m Laura, a first year PhD student and UK Maths Trust volunteer. I started volunteering in my first year of university – I wanted to give back to the Maths Trust, because it did so much to help me.

I was a junior student at a summer school in Oxford at the end of year 11, and from there I went on to join the mentoring scheme, and to be a senior student at two more years of summer school. That first summer school was what made me decide to do a maths degree, and also persuaded me to seriously consider Oxbridge without dismissing it out of hand as “not for people like me”. Then the mentoring scheme was extremely helpful for developing my problem-solving skills, and I think it played a huge role in how well I did in my entrance exam and interview for Oxford. The Maths Trust certainly had a huge impact on my trajectory into higher education.

If anything, that impact has probably increased over time! After completing an integrated master’s degree at Oxford University, I went on to swap the dreaming tower cranes of Oxford for the dreaming geese of Warwick, where I am currently studying for my PhD in geometric analysis. I’m really enjoying it, and hoping to continue on into a career in academia.

I now volunteer with the UK Maths Trust as a lead volunteer at the National Mathematics Summer Schools (NMSS), and as a mentor on the Enrichment Mentoring Scheme (EMS). On the Mentoring Scheme, I give personalised feedback to students on their solutions to a monthly problem sheet. It is an immense privilege to see young mathematicians flourish in their problem-solving and communication skills over the course of a year on the scheme. 

At summer schools, a team of volunteers work with a group of older school students (mostly years 10 and 11, with some from years 12 and 13) over the course of a week. We run a variety of sessions, with the aim of showcasing many different areas of maths, placing an emphasis on working collaboratively. I have been pastoral lead for a summer school on two occasions, and will be reprising this role this year – we’re also currently recruiting for summer school volunteers, and I’d highly recommend contacting Chris Curry, the Maths Trust’s Enrichment Coordinator for more information by emailing

One popular session that I run at summer schools is a maths crafts evening, so I thought I’d finish this section by suggesting some of my favourite mathematical crafts! If you have a bit of time and a square of paper, then you can try folding an approximation to a hyperbolic paraboloid. And if you have a printer, some scissors and some tape or glue, then you could try a craft I made a few years ago – there are very limited instructions for this one, because it’s a mystery! If you’d like to try any other mathematical crafts, then you can find many more with a range of difficulties collated on my webpage.

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Volunteer Story – Laura Bradby

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