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.
I work in the relatively new and very fast paced world of social media and web content. I’m employed by a first party Xbox video games studio to run their social channels (nine channels over six platforms) and create content for their website. I also help plan and execute marketing campaigns, write scripts for and produce marketing videos and provide the studio with a direct route to their fans and customers.
I studied Theology and Religious Studies at college, not the most obvious degree for what I’ve ended up doing. My role as Entertainments Officer on the JCR provided me with valuable experience that I still draw on today! After I graduated I returned to college as a member of staff, a very strange feeling indeed. I became the college’s Schools Liaison Officer for a year. The role gave me a wide variety of skills and experience. I stayed in the role for 12 months then moved to the Midlands with my other half (now soon to be husband).
After a few months of fruitlessly applying for jobs my heart wasn’t in I got some freelance writing work through a friend. I really enjoyed the work and began taking on more and finding other places to write for. When my grandfather offered – so kindly – to fund an MA in Journalism to extend my career options I was thrilled. The 12-month course gave me lots of real world experience and reawakened my passion for learning. Within five weeks of finishing up teaching for the course I was starting my current role. Working for Microsoft is fantastic. I get to work in an industry that combines creativity with technology and offers up amazing opportunities. I used to use social media to market events and stay connected whilst I was a student and now I’ve made a career of it!
I’ve continued to maintain a connection with college. It was – and will remain – a very important place to me. I’ve offered career advice through the Gateway Programme, become a year rep for the Alumnae Office and signed up to donate to the Rosemary Murray Fund through a telephone campaign. Help from the fund eased a lot of financial pressure on me during my second and third year so I wanted to give the same help to a current student. My experiences at college have helped shape me so it’ll always be a part of my life.
My name is Laura Imperatori and I studied the Natural Sciences Tripos at Cambridge University. Before I came here I was very interested in three questions: “Does a theory of everything exist?”, “How are we able to think logically and critically and seem to have a free will based upon physical and chemical processes in our brain?” and “How can we use our scientific knowledge to tackle climate change?”
Studying the Natural Sciences Tripos enabled me to gain a deeper understanding of how nature works, but only practical experience could help me to decide which one of these questions I wanted to dedicate my time and energy to. I found that the Gateway programme (in Murray Edwards) did not only help me in the organisation of my studies, but it also enabled me to gain research experience in different fields through the financial support of the Gateway Challenges Funding Award. I received an Award for summer activities in all three years of my undergraduate studies, which helped me make a well-founded decision about my third-year-courses as well as my Master’s degree. In my fourth year of the Natural Sciences Tripos, I will be able to advise the incoming students based on my own experiences.
Having spent a gap year working in the Dominican Environment Ministry, I have been interested in environmental issues especially during my first year, so I decided to participate in the “Cambridge Summer Programme on International Policy and Climate Change Risk Assessment”. However, since then through my involvement with the Cambridge University Physics Society and others I realised that I would like to work in basic research. In the following summer, I conducted a two-month-long internship combining my interest in Physics and in Neuroscience: I investigated the community structure of the C. elegans neural network at the Theory of Condensed Matter group of the Cavendish Laboratory. Based on this internship I realised that my interest in the more complex workings of the human brain outweighs my interest in what we can currently find out about the brain using Statistical Mechanics. As a result, I made the decision to study Half-Subject Physics with Experimental Psychology in my third year. …continue reading…
Being a second year PPS (Politics, Psychology and Sociology) student at Murray Edwards is an accurate description of only part of who I am. I am also Operations Manager for ‘One Big Community’ in London. The college has embraced the international scope that the students and the alum have gone on to enjoy, but in addition to this many of us are doing things right on the doorstep. Not too far away, ‘One Big Community’ tackles youth violence, incubated by Cambridge House, a London-based charity with a focus on social action and injustice.
‘One Big Community’ is a youth-led coalition of young people and partner organisations committed to tackling the problems surrounding youth violence across London. “Sounding Out London” is a project we are focusing on at the moment. It aims to find ways of understanding and improving the relationship young people have with sectors (e.g. media, education) that we identified as contributing factors to youth violence. It enables young people to discuss youth violence with some of London’s most influential decision makers and campaigners. My role as Operations Manager has allowed me to sit on the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) Gangs Panel, working in conjunction with the Metropolitan Police and other agencies that engage with young people on a regular basis. Many of the analytical skills gained as part of my degree and the soft skills developed as part of the College’s Gateway Programme have meant that I am more confident in articulating my opinion. For example, our Wall of Silence debate held at City Hall enabled me to engage in passionate yet disciplined discussion surrounding the social education of our youth. …continue
My name is Alice Prodger. I’m a second year student at Murray Edwards, and my academic life involves dissecting a beneficient (dead) dog called Rufus. I’m a veterinary student.
Murray Edwards must be the only college in Cambridge where they try to get rid of you as soon as you have arrived. And I mean this in a good way. The college’s Gateway Programme (and ME is the only Cambridge college to have this) starts you thinking about what comes after Cambridge even as you try to get your head around your very first supervision, let alone whether you remembered your duvet and coffee mugs. If the college weren’t so friendly, you’d be slightly worried that they were showing you the gate out of it, when you’ve just walked in through the door. But, Murray Edwards is not a conveyor belt. And the Gateway opens onto not just one path, but a spaghetti junction of possibilities. As with the essays you will so enjoy writing, it’s all about prep. If you know what you’re going to do, it makes it so much easier to do it. To untangle some of those paths there is, for instance, the Academic Development Programme, the strand (within Gateway) for which I am the Veterinary Student Adviser (there’s one of me for every subject). …continue reading…