One determined girl’s perseverance, quiet self-belief and dedication to rowing have been rewarded with a life-changing scholarship to study in America

Emily Strawbridge, a boarder at Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls, has been offered a rare opportunity to study at the University of Connecticut thanks to the great promise she shows in the boat.

Affectionately known as ‘Strawberry’ or ‘Strawbs’ to her friends, Emily, 17, hasn’t always found life on the water easy. Kate Callaghan, head of rowing at HMSG, said: ‘Emily has got to where she is now is through hard work. When she came to us in Year 11, we chucked her out sculling and she kept falling in the water – but she laughed it off and she was never bothered by it.

“If you wanted somebody on your team, that you could trust and rely on, or in your boat, you know she’s that girl” – Kate Callaghan, head of rowing at HMSG

‘Now she’s captain of boats and beating records on our sculling ladder. Emily’s very grounded – that’s an important quality. There are times when it’s tough, but you have to persevere. She’s very good at dusting herself off and getting on with it. The fact she can bounce back identifies her true character.’

Emily will become part of the University of Connecticut’s sports team, Huskies, when she arrives in the States next year, enjoying seasonal training camps in Florida.

Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for GirlsEmily Strawbridge – nicknamed ‘Strawbs’ – has won a highly competitive U.S. rowing scholarship 

With demanding training sessions on the river and in the gym taking priority eight times a week, Emily’s training sessions can last for up to three hours.

“I was quite surprised when I found out about the scholarship. I couldn’t stop smiling…” – Emily ‘Strawbs’ Strawbridge

‘She’s got lots of mental grit, mental toughness. She’s on a mission, well focused, driven but prepared to be patient. She’s not going to throw in the towel at any stage. If you wanted somebody on your team, that you could trust and rely on, or in your boat, you know she’s that girl. I’m so proud of her. I use her as a really good example of teaching girls that nothing comes to you on a plate, you’ve got to go and get it.’

Emily is also preparing to trial for the GB rowing squad this year. ‘I was quite surprised when I found out about the scholarship,’ she said. ‘It’s so competitive and such a life-changing thing. I couldn’t stop smiling the day I found out.

‘The HMSG rowing team is like a little family – the people make all the difference. Boarding has made life a lot easier too, especially with early morning training because I don’t have to travel to get to it. The staff always set me on the right path if I get behind with my work too.’

Julie Ann Morse, Housemistress of Augusta House for sixth form girls, talked about what a fantastic example the rower is for her peers.

‘Emily is an inspiration rather than a role model,’ she says. ‘She’s not a prima donna, but a true story of how perseverance can lead to amazing things. It’s been a pleasure to watch her blossom and develop.’

For more information on HMSG, visit hmsg.co.uk