A DETERMINED student has been offered a place at one of the world's most prestigious universities, but she needs a hand to get there.

Catherine Ward, from Darlington, has the rare opportunity to attend her "dream" MEd course at Graduate School of Education in America, which will run online due to the coronavirus in August.

The 26-year-old will study Human Development and Psychology, where she will focus her passion for learning about the emotional impact in childhood education from Darlington.

"I'm really proud of my North East roots, but I feel like we get a lot of negativity. It's not everyday that someone from Darlington gets to study at Harvard," she said.

For Ms Ward to attend however, she'll need to raise around £30,000 to attend the esteemed university.

"It’s a crazy expensive place to go. Harvard’s financial aid package will pay a portion, and I’m borrowing as much money as I possibly can, but that still leaves me short of quite a bit to pay for the high tuition fees.

"I’ve gone down every possible funding avenue I could think of and I've started a gofundme page in hope that I can bring my dream a little bit closer to reality."

Ms Ward, who graduated from Durham University with a first joint degree in Education Studies and Psychology, said that the course would be a gateway for her career in education in UK public schools.

"I applied to Harvard mostly because this was the only masters course I could find in the world that will allow me to tackle exactly what I’m passionate about, and I'm still willing to attend this year even if it's all online.

"I truly believe that pastoral support in schools is crucial in a child’s psychological development, and this course allows me to develop that for practical application. I’ve been on the receiving end of both good and bad support in education and both have impacted me in very real ways.

"I was a anxious child and I struggled in school because of it. I want to help other children who are like me, whether that's in a school directly, or working in pastoral care on a nation level looking at how we can make changes."

On top of balancing her studies, Ms Ward has had to battle fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition.

"Some days were worse than others, but it's been a real struggle," she said. "The positive impact has been that it's left me very driven to complete my studies and follow me dream."

So far the gofundme page has raised over £2,500, including donations from family, friends, strangers and even gofundme themselves who gave £300 to the cause as part of their give back scheme.

"I'm really touched that people see me as worthy," said Ms Ward. "It brings my goal just a little bit closer."

To donate to Catherine's cause visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-catherine-support-pupil-wellbeing?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1