Smoothing the pathway to becoming a great dentist

James is a second year Dentistry student and a recipient of the Jimmy Steele Scholarship. The Scholarship was established in memory of Emeritus Professor Jimmy Steele CBE, who was Head of the Dental School, to help students who might face financial stress in accessing a degree. The hope is that the support will go a little way to smoothing the pathway to becoming a great dentist. This is James' story.

I had the opportunity to complete work experience in a dental practice during Year 10. Since then, I knew that I wanted to study Dentistry at university.

A big part of my decision to study at Newcastle University was the PARTNERS programme. During the PARTNERS summer school, I gained an insight into what studying dentistry would involve and it made me even more excited to come to Newcastle. Last week, we learnt about one of the topics that we were introduced to at the summer school, so that was really helpful to already have a basic understanding of what I was going to be learning. 

The course modules also appealed to me, and I liked the way that it incorporated more practicals and clinics as the years went on. The fact that the Dental Hospital is attached to the Dental School was also a big factor. 

When I had my interview, I found the lecturers to be really friendly. One of the lecturers who was on my interview panel teaches dental materials and I was studying woodwork in sixth form at the time, so we had a lot to talk about. I didn’t realise materials would be such a big part of the course, that made me want to study at Newcastle University even more. 


The Jimmy Steele Scholarship has relieved a lot of financial pressure for my family by helping towards my accommodation costs and bills. If I didn’t receive the scholarship, I would have had to apply for a part-time job alongside my studies which would have been a struggle to balance whilst studying such an intense course.

James, Jimmy Steele Scholarship recipient
Second year, Dentistry student

I’m really enjoying the practical side of the course and I’ve already had a taster session of the clinical side of things. I’m looking forward to moving onto clinics after exams. I’ve also had the opportunity to study cadavers, which I found really interesting.

I’ve met a lot of people on my course through the group work that we do, and I’ve made some really good friends who I’m going to be living with next year.

I’ve enjoyed exploring Newcastle, as I didn’t know much about the city before I applied to university. There are so many nice places to visit, especially in the summer, such as Tynemouth and Jesmond Dene. The campus is really nice too.

One of my favourite extracurricular activities is ‘Brush Up’ which involves going out into primary schools in the local area and teaching them about the importance of oral hygiene through different activity stations - I find it really rewarding! I also do jiu-jitsu and six-a-side football at the Sports Centre, and I use the gym there too.

I’ve always been keen to work in a hospital and when I graduate, I would like to specialise in oral surgery.

I’m grateful for the scholarship because it has helped me massively and made a huge difference to my studies, because I haven’t had to have as much stress on me. With the first instalment, I was able to purchase an iPad, which is what I use for my studies. I was previously having to write up my notes during lectures.

I got the opportunity to meet Jimmy’s wife, Kate, at the annual Supporter Thank You Event. The event was great, as it’s nice to know where the support comes from and to be able to express my appreciation in person.


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