St Mary’s alumna returns to UK to open school’s STEM Lab following donation

St Mary’s alumna returns to UK to open school’s STEM Lab following donation

A former St Mary’s international student, whose generous financial donation enabled the school to open a ground-breaking new STEM Learning Lab, flew back to the UK in early September to officially open the state-of-the-art building.

Back in 2021, Miss Ivy (Yingting) Qian, who attended St Mary’s Sixth Form from September 2012 to June 2014 as an overseas boarding student, made a substantial personal donation to St Mary’s, which enabled the school to take its STEM provision to the next level. Following delays in travel arrangements due to Covid, Miss Qian made the long journey from China to the UK to cut the ribbon and officially open the STEM Lab at the Junior School at a special event held on Friday 9 September.

Much thought was given as to whether the ceremony should go ahead following the death of HRH Queen Elizabeth II. However, given Miss Qian had already travelled to the UK from China specifically for the event, it was agreed the opening should still take place, albeit in a smaller capacity. Guests also observed a minute silence and prayer. 

Speaking at the event, Miss Qian said:

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team at St Mary’s, who helped me immensely through my time at the school. Every time I look back on my education, I always feel extremely lucky that St Mary’s was my first stop in the UK. During my A Level studies at St Mary’s, my teachers inspired and nurtured me to find my passion for STEM subjects. Without the school’s support, I can’t imagine getting to where I am today. I have always wanted to show my gratitude for that. I hope my donation will help educate and motivate the next generation of St Mary’s girls. I am so honoured to open the lab and very excited to see how it helps future young ladies build their interests in STEM.”

The dynamic new learning space is named The Yingting Qian STEM Lab, after Miss Qian, and is equipped with everything students need to experiment, explore, design, test and perfect their STEM innovation ideas. The specialist lab will enable St Mary’s dedicated STEM teachers to enhance how they nurture students on their journey to becoming tomorrow’s innovators.

Charlotte Avery, Headmistress at St Mary’s School, said:

“Our young alumna, Ivy, has a strong sense of duty and devotion to St Mary’s. She has been immensely generous at an extraordinarily young age, and we are extremely grateful for her financial contribution. We always say with pride, that ‘Once a St Mary’s girl, always a St Mary’s girl’. In the short amount of time since she left the school, Ivy has proved this to be the case. She obviously loved her time at St Mary’s and wanted to give back to our community. That’s a powerful testament to our school, and to the calibre of students that walk through our doors.”

From St Mary’s Sixth Form, Miss Qian continued her education at Cambridge University and graduated in 2018 with a BA Hons degree. She ranked top five in the second year of her University studies and was awarded a Knight Third-Year Scholarship and an Anne Jemima Clough Prize at Newnham College. After leaving Cambridge, Miss Qian completed an investment banking internship at Morgan Stanley in Hong Kong before joining the Real Estate Debt Strategies team at Blackstone in London. Miss Qian recently took up a post in Shanghai working for Goldman Sachs in its Special Situation Group.

You can see a gallery of images from the occasion here.