TWO Scottish teenagers who grew up in care have been selected to attend a prestigious summer school at one of the world’s most famous universities.

Andi Stannard, 17, from Orkney, and Lauren Tenn-Mills, 18, from Bo’ness, are departing for a seven-week residential stay at Harvard University’s secondary school summer programme.

During their stay at the campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just north of Boston, the pair will work on academic projects with some of Harvard’s leading professors.

The initiative has been organised and funded by national voluntary organisation Who Cares? Scotland, local authorities and national exam body Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

Andi, a sixth year pupil at Kirkwall Grammar School, said: “Harvard is the kind of place you only see in movies, and at the minute all this seems like it’s happening to someone else.

“I have to keep reminding myself that it is happening to me. When I applied for the summer school, I never allowed myself to believe I would make it past the first hurdle.

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“It just goes to show that no matter how small a chance you think you may have, it might just be the lucky break you deserve.”

Lauren, a student at Forth Valley College, said: “Harvard isn’t a place I ever thought I would be able to associate myself with, especially as a young care experienced teenager.

“Chances like this are what give children in care hope for a brighter future. I believe it is so important for every child in the system to realise that they have the potential to achieve whatever they put their mind to.”

This is the tenth year Who Cares Scotland has sent students to Harvard for the summer, giving care experienced young people the opportunity to experience student life at an Ivy League university.

Duncan Dunlop, chief executive of Who Cares? Scotland praised the achievements of the girls, but said more could be done to support children who have grown up in care.

He said: “Andi and Lauren are amongst the exception. Current figures show that just 16 per cent of care experienced young people leave school with a single Higher, or a similar qualification.

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“From 40 years of our evidence we know care experienced people have always had high aspirations and we need to ensure all aspects of the system are able to support their ambitions.”

Dr Janet Brown, chief executive of the SQA, said staff across the organisation were “immensely proud” of the work to support Who Cares? Scotland.

She said: “Like any corporate parent, we take great pride in the achievements of the young people we encounter.

“Andi and Lauren are about to head off on a fantastic adventure and it is a real thrill to see them set out on their own.

“Their time at Harvard will help shape them and their outlook on life, and I’m sure their story will inspire others to realise that your background should not be a barrier to your ambitions.”