HMC Projects – Celebrating the success of the scheme and their scholars

Thomas Garnier

Headmaster, Pangbourne College

Read the blog

Pangbourne College has been delighted to welcome many HMC Projects scholars over the years. The aim of the scholarship programme is to foster bonds of understanding and friendship between young people across Europe and to give young people from the former communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe an enriching and rewarding experience in some of the best schools in the world. We have been able to give our scholars a community in which they can flourish and grow academically and socially. Our Flag Values of kindness, selflessness, moral courage, initiative, industry, resilience, respect and integrity underpin all we do as a school, and they go a long way to prepare our pupils for life’s challenges and the responsibilities of adulthood.

HMC Projects administers the process to identify suitable candidates. Each year, the Director, Jonathan Wolstenholme, contacts schools in October to ask whether they would be interested in offering full or reduced-fee scholarships in the following academic year. We have always extended the scholarship through bursary funding for both years of the Sixth Form. In recent years, we have offered one fully funded scholarship each year, although for 2022-2023 we offered an additional scholarship for a student from Ukraine identified by HMC Projects.

Scholars are selected by experienced interviewers, many of whom are retired heads, and schools are contacted with details of the scholar(s) HMC Projects wishes to place at the school in February, which gives plenty of time for the admissions processes to be completed.

It is inspiring to look back on the achievements of some of our recent scholars who have emerged as outstanding members of the School and have gone on to pursue some fantastic studies and careers.

Most recently Lucia Buric, from Croatia, went on to study Biological Sciences at Edinburgh University.

Lucia immersed herself in College life, making a leading contribution to music, in particular. Lucia’s time here wasn’t without its challenges. As the Covid pandemic hit, she wasn’t able to return home and had to spend time in the boarding house without many of her peers. During this stressful time, the staff at Pangbourne really stepped up to support her in every way.

“Being an HMC Scholar changed my future. When I was in Croatia, I never dreamt of going over to the UK to study. This opportunity has allowed me to dream bigger and achieve more than I thought I could. And I will forever be thankful for Pangbourne College.”

Lucia Buric, HMC Scholar

Tomas Tokovyi, from Ukraine, said that his life changed irrevocably when he won the HMC Scholarship to pursue his studies at Pangbourne College. Tomas obtained three straight A’s in his A levels and went on to Bristol University to study Biochemistry.

He has since completed three biomedical research internships in Bristol, one in Norwich, one back home in Ukraine and one at Oxford where he worked for a biotech company.

While preparing for his final exams at Bristol, Tomas had to deal with the devastating news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In response to this, he took part in many events to raise awareness on and off campus about what was happening.

As a result of his achievement in his course, Tomas was awarded the prestigious Clarendon Scholarship to complete a Masters degree at Oxford University in genomic medicine. After his studies his vision is to build a strong biotech and entrepreneurial culture in Ukraine which would enormously benefit both Ukraine and the wider world in pursuit of cutting-edge resistance to disease.

Polina Kalentsits was one of the first HMC Projects scholars I accepted after I became Head of Pangbourne in 2005, and she set a very high standard as one of the most talented artists we have had. A student from Estonia, when she left Pangbourne she went on to study Film and Television Studies and Fine Arts as a joint honours undergraduate degree at Aberystwyth University in Wales.  After three  years in Aberystwyth, Polina went to London and completed a Masters in Production Design in Film and Television at Kingston University. She has now landed her dream job in the film industry.

“It’s a fantastic, booming industry and I am able to express myself creatively and contribute to promoting the arts in the UK, none of which would be possible without the scholarship from Pangbourne. It empowered me to set higher goals and dream bigger than I anticipated when I was in Estonia, ultimately leading to my dream job in the film industry … Preparing for life beyond school, Pangbourne taught me discipline and willingness to work hard to achieve the set goals and gave me confidence to deal with challenging situations and made me believe in myself. I made friends for life in Pangbourne and I couldn’t imagine my life without them.”

Polina Kalentsits, HMC Scholar

It has been a privilege to be able to give such transformational opportunities to the HMC Projects scholars, but almost all of our scholars have contributed as much as they have been given through their commitment to study and to wider aspects of College life, their values and their cultural perspectives. I have no doubt that the programme has been worth every penny!

Painting by Polina Kalentsits, HMC Scholar

Lucia Buric (centre), HMC Scholar, on a Duke of Edinburgh Expedition



1 December 2022