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Student unearths her passion

An archaeology student has won a writing competition after describing how her fascination with an ancient iceman got her hooked on the subject.

Elena Chabo

Elena Chabo, a third year student from Essex, beat entries from around 2,500 students to win a prize of £5,000 in the competition run by UCAS and The Times.

In her winning entry she described how she became captivated by the discovery of the body of a Neothic hunter in the Italian Alps. The tatooed remains of the Iceman were discovered in melting ice in 1991.

Inspiring story

She wrote about how she was inspired by how DNA analysis of the Iceman which showed he ate red deer for his final meal 5000 years ago.

Entrants were received and judged by a panel of academic experts, with the overall winner being chosen by David Willetts, the Universities and Science minister.

This competition proves that higher education transforms people’s lives. The entries took very different paths but they all reflected a passion for learning.I congratulate Elena Chabo on her winning entry, which shows the diversity of activity on campus and how it shapes lives. As her essay shows, the benefits of attending university go far beyond the financial return.

David WilletsUniversities and Science Minister

Passion for learning

Elena is the overall winner, after initially winning the business and vocational category. In addition to her prize of £5,000, she will be invited to spend a day at The Times.

Entrants in the competition were challenged to describe their passion for learning at degree level, explaining why they chose their subject and their experience of immersing themselves in study.

This competition gave thousands of students the chance to express an unabashed passion for their degree course.The winning entry by Elena Chabo was the work of a young woman whose dedication to archaeology was evident in every paragraph. It is impossible not to feel inspired by reading about Elena ‘hunting for remains and piecing together clues’ or by her description of the moment her subject ‘found’ her. The quality of Elena’s expression and her advocacy of higher education were superb. Her conclusion that ‘when you give it your all and study amongst incredible minds, that childhood excitement takes hold’, perfectly catches the mood we hoped this competition would uncover.

Mary Curnock CookChief Executive of UCAS

I fear that I may have just peaked; I’m not quite sure how I’m ever going to top this win!

Elena Chabo2nd year archaeology student

Read the winning essay

Photograph courtesy of Ella Brooks, Viella B Photography