Talented runner, 18, from tiny North Yorkshire village wins scholarship to Ivy League college Princeton University in the US

A student at a North Yorkshire school has won a scholarship worth around £250,000 to study at one of America’s most prestigious universities.

Pictured, Mena Scatchard, 18, one of the fastest young middle-distance runners in the UK, will be leaving her small North Yorkshire village for the hallowed halls of Princeton University in New Jersey. Photo credit: Submitted picture

Mena Scatchard, 18, one of the fastest young middle-distance runners in the UK, will be leaving her small North Yorkshire village for the hallowed halls of Princeton University in New Jersey.

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The US Ivy League institution, which offered just under four per cent of all 37,600 applicants a place, will pay for the Ripon Grammar School student's fees and accommodation for four years.

Famous former students of Princeton, where annual tuition fees are $52,800 (£37,874), include mathematician and Bletchley Park code breaker Alan Turing. Photo credit: SWNS

"I am really excited," Mena said. "It was quite a moment to get the official acceptance through."

The youngster from the village of Hutton Conyers will initially study a 'liberal arts’ degree – which includes a broad range of subjects also including science subjects - before narrowing down her study area.

Famous former students of Princeton, where annual tuition fees are $52,800 (£37,874), include mathematician Alan Turing, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and former First Lady Michelle Obama.

Mena said: "I am ready to spread my wings and looking forward to training and studying in America."

The talented athlete, who has been crowned Yorkshire Champion three years running and has been talent spotted by England and British Athletics as a future sporting star, applied after hearing about the "exceptional" sports facilities, training and competitions at US universities.

“It’s the best opportunity I could have at this time of life to develop my running and I’m confident I can make a lot of progress," Mena said.

As well as impressing the university with her sporting record, Mena, who was selected to run for the England youth team last year, had to sit a four-and-a-half-hour exam to win her coveted place on Princeton’s liberal arts degree course.

She also had to study for aptitude tests required by the American educational system - at the same time as preparing for her A-level exams in chemistry, biology and geography.

Mena, who achieved a clean sweep of top grades in her GCSEs, juggles a demanding training schedule with Leeds City Athletic Club, where she is coached by Kieron Hall, with her A-level studies.

She runs five days a week, in addition to doing strength and conditioning and cross-training work.

“I am just very diligent when I get home from running, I shower, eat and just get down to my homework,” Mena said.

Brenda Scatchard, Mena's mother and a former PE teacher, said the whole family were "delighted" and very proud of her.

She said: "Mena has done very well for herself and we are delighted for her. We’re looking forward to visiting her and to watching some Ivy League competitions."

Mrs Scatchard added they are a "very sporting family" as Mena's younger sister Marnie, 16, who is also a student at Ripon Grammar School, also runs as well as playing netball, tennis and hockey for the school and at county level.

“We have always done a lot of sports and activities growing up and Mum runs us to a lot of my training sessions and events,” said Mena.

Jonathan Webb, the headteacher for Ripon Grammar School, added: “Mena has been absolutely dedicated to her cross country and athletics throughout her time at RGS.

"Anybody who has seen her running the streets of Ripon and surrounding areas understand the immense focus and determination she has given to this goal.

"She is a very hard-working student and this is a wonderful and well-deserved achievement for her.”

In addition, all her flights, food, sports kit and coaching are being funded by the university Mena, from Hutton Conyers, will be granted a personal spending allowance to ensure she remains debt-free.

Despite sporting competitions being curtailed due to coronavirus over the past year, and Mena having to take some time out due to injury, she said she is looking forward to the next "exciting chapter" in her life.

She said: "Princeton looks to be a lovely college town and it is only an hour out of New York, so I am looking forward to getting to know the area. Everybody seems very friendly so I think I should get a good welcome.

"Of course, I will be back in Yorkshire in between semesters and will be keeping in touch with family and friends."

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