I’m Ros Smith and I studied Natural Sciences at New Hall (now Murray Edwards) in the 1980s. No-one from my family had attended university, and so coming to Cambridge (from a small town in Yorkshire) was both a challenging and a life-enhancing experience. I remember both the excitement and the apprehension that this generated – and the kindness and warmth of the people I met including the ever-friendly and ever-patient College porters.
On leaving Cambridge I undertook a PhD in electrophysiology at Leicester University and then joined the computer industry working my way up to a position as operations director and major company shareholder.
What I learned was the importance of education to what you can achieve. Education can be both personally fulfilling and inspirationally transformative. It allowed me to succeed in ways that I had never anticipated and I am wholeheartedly committed to the principle of educational progression based on academic ability rather than on class, background, colour or religion.
Success in the computer industry has meant that my husband and I have been able to actively support initiatives and institutions which help to further educational opportunities for all. We have founded bestCourse4me, a website to help students to make informed University choices; supported IntoUniversity, helping children from deprived backgrounds to gain the aspiration and achievements needed to access a University education; and supported Red Balloon, recovering bullied and traumatised children who are out of school, returning them to education.
In addition, we were able to make a significant donation to the College to help secure its future and its capacity to offer the sort of transformative educational experience from which I have benefitted so much myself.
Looking back over this blog now I am delighted to see how others have been able to make use of this opportunity. I am especially excited by the experiences of students within the Gateway programme and the gap year scholarships. Students have used their Gateway opportunities to travel, work in voluntary projects, research projects, study jazz music and script-writing; and I have loved reading about the independence and skills developed by students on the gap year scholarships, working in different languages, teaching, shadowing a neurologist at the famous teaching hospital la Pitié-Salpêtriére. I wish I could have my student days again!
This to me is what education is all about and it remains a great pleasure to me to be associated with all that the College has done and continues to do.