My gap year began in Paris, where I worked in a tea boutique (a shop that is mentioned on Gossip Girl, no less!). This was a fantastic experience for me, since I found myself living alone in a foreign country, which opened the door to so many new adventures. Not only did I learn the wonderful, diverse culture of tea but I also took advantage of living in one of the culinary capitals of the world and expanded my recipe books daily. Having never left the comfort of my parental home before, I was more than a little daunted by the prospect of being entirely independent in such a busy city but within a month I could almost pass for a real Parisienne.
During my days off, I shadowed a neurologist at the world-renown teaching hospital la Pitié-Salpêtrière, which, under the patronage of Charcot, became known as the birthplace of modern neurology. I attended clinics for young patients suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome and learnt more about a disease that I had previously known very little about. While this experience was fascinating from a scientific point of view, it was also thought provoking to learn more about how this syndrome affected the lives of the patients.
I returned to England in January, and spent several months tutoring students in subjects ranging from Maths and Physics to Spanish and Latin. I felt a real sense of pride in these students when they achieved the results I knew they were capable of. It was absolutely fantastic to be able to share in the joy of someone who got full marks on a maths test they had previously failed.
And then, before I knew it, my bags were packed and I was about to embark on a road trip across America. That first night, I couldn’t sleep at all – whether because of the jetlag or the excitement, I couldn’t say. They say a journey of a hundred miles begins with a single step. My journey of over 2000 miles of open road began with a single step into a puddle. The uncharacteristically rainy weather that followed me did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm, however. I really adored absorbing all the different cultures that make up the United States, and found it interesting that crossing a state line was well and truly like entering a new country. …continue reading…
When I arrived at Murray Edwards three years ago to study Veterinary Medicine, I could never have guessed that I would find myself spending my Sundays looking down from silks and looking up at juggling balls. I became a juggler after joining the Cambridge University Jugglers’ Association (CUJA), and then a year later I also took up aerial silks at Cambridge Community Circus.
For me, becoming a juggler is about more than just learning a few tricks. The people in CUJA were really welcoming and encouraging when I tentatively walked into my first meeting with a fellow Murray Edwards student at the end of Freshers’ week. I could already juggle three balls, but hadn’t even begun to imagine the range of tricks that were possible with balls and other props such as poi, devilstick, and diabolo. After spending time with jugglers, the impossible becomes possible. When we think of something that seems hard the question is no longer “is that even possible?” but “how long will it take to learn that?”.
Like all circus skills, juggling and aerial take consistent long term effort to progress in. The better you get at a skill, the harder it is to improve. The important point is that you can always see results by keeping up with practice and working on the right things. The can-do attitude of circus is something I’ve found very helpful to adopt in my studies as well. When I find something hard to understand, I consider it to be something I just haven’t learned yet rather than something I am bad at, then work to improve in that area. …continue reading…
As I enter the role of new Executive Graduate Tutor, I am deeply inspired by the graduates that I have recently met and greeted. It is a privilege to share in their aspirations and journeys.
As part of my new role, I find it stimulating to motivate, facilitate, encourage and support students’ learning. I am enjoying channeling my interests in the fields of Education and Applied Linguistics as well as my experience in intercultural exchange and pastoral care into supporting the College’s growing, dynamic graduate community.
Having initially come to Cambridge myself as an international graduate student (a British national having grown up abroad), I am also familiar with the students’ academic journeys and understand the joys and challenges linked to the postgraduate experience at this University. Diverse educational, professional and cultural experiences throughout my life have enabled me to develop a varied background in learning, teaching, administration, educational management and curriculum development. I have been fortunate to have gained an awareness of numerous cultural approaches to education that influence graduates’ journeys of success.
Murray Edwards currently has around 170 graduate students. Around 50 arrived for the first time this year. When asked by the new graduate students why they had been chosen, I explained how as outstanding women from different backgrounds and cultures they resonate with the College’s ethos in terms of their enthusiasm to develop as creative thinkers, informed leaders and insightful decision-makers, equipped to take on the challenges presented in their academic, professional and personal lives. …continue reading…
On the three hour journey from Sherborne to Cambridge, we were guessing as to what the conference might be like. Since all of us are aspiring to be scientists, we were looking forward to hearing from prominent women in the fields that we took particular interest in. Taking part in such a significant event was nerve-racking for us as Sixth Form students, however, when we arrived, the warm welcome and enthusiasm of the organisers transformed the worry into excitement. Listening to the first speaker, Professor Dame Athene Donald taught us how to be successful women in a male dominated field such as Physics and Engineering and that more action in society’s part needs to be taken to make changes. Talented girls should be encouraged throughout their education, so that fear of stereotypes do not hold them back.
We were always lucky being in an independent girls’ school where the issues discussed were not common, but still present in the back of our minds. Our ‘Networking Session’ was powerful in conveying the discussion topics from our point of view. The opportunity to talk with academics about women in science, helped us to realise that we can also make a change ourselves by becoming involved. Then hearing from Ms Olivia Walker, a PhD student, made the issues more relatable because she had experienced the undergraduate program that we are about to embark on.
The lecture by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock was extremely inspiring. Holding her young daughter whilst speaking demonstrated that it is possible to have a high-powered career as well as a family. Dr Maggie described how even though as a young girl, she struggled at school due to her dyslexia and the lack of support from the teaching staff, she found herself enjoying science. Her love of science led her to a successful and exciting career in making documentaries, instruments for the Aeolus Satellite for Astrium and also working for the Ministry of Defence. Before the conference, we thought that working in science concentrating on a single aspect for the rest of our academic life, however Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock is an example of how diverse and ever-changing a career in science can be.
Attending the ‘Women in Science’ conference at Murray Edwards College, gave us the power to be the scientists we aspire to be and we would recommend attending this conference to any students in the future.
Maya Vlahovic and Emily Dillon
Sixth-form students at Sherborne School for Girls
If the theme is ‘Going Places’, I certainly did just that; this Summer for over eight weeks I lived in a rural village in Western Uganda (through the charity Education Partnerships Africa) , and for two weeks (separately to the project) I travelled around the beautiful country – from the rainforests bordering Rwanda, across to the Ssese islands in Lake Victoria.
However, I found that I went furthest, challenged myself deeper, and explored Uganda most not whilst travelling but during the time spent in the rural village of Rubindi. My task there was simple; I fundraised £900 in the UK and I was placed with two other ‘Project Workers’ who had done the same, giving us a total budget of £2700 to invest in Nombe Secondary School, a school chosen by the charity.
I presupposed that investing money in an ill-resourced school would be the ‘easy’ part, and that the cultural change and very basic accommodation would be far more challenging; very quickly this assumption flipped on its head. Collecting water in jerry cans and pouring it over myself in a bucket shower became the norm within the first week, as did eating matoke (cooked and mushed savoury banana), posho (maize flour mixed with water) and beans for lunch.
Far more challenging were the decisions facing my two fellow Project Partners and me, always working in partnership with the teachers concerned; although £2700 can stretch to far more in Uganda than ever conceivable in the UK, we still faced large budgetary decisions. One such was a choice between investing in a large-scale health education programme with mosquito net provision for every boarder in the 700-strong student body or fully equipping a second science laboratory for use, hoping to raise interest in the subject through increased experiments and by showing that it is worth investing in. …continue reading…