The highlight of the day was the Q&A session with BME students as it gave me an insight into what it is like for a person of colour to live and learn at Cambridge.
Ashleigh, from the London Academy of Excellence, echoed the feedback from other students attending Trinity’s first BME conference in November this year.
Designed by Trinity student Sarah Lusack (pictured right) to offer ‘an honest and realistic idea’ of studying at Cambridge, the event attracted 110 students and teachers from schools in London. It was organised by Sarah and Terri-Leigh Riley, Schools Liaison Officer at Trinity, and involved current BME students as well as numerous Fellows and PhD researchers.
The success of the conference means it will become an annual event at Trinity – and sets the bar high for other Colleges. Sarah, the BME officer at Trinity College Students’ Union, explains:
One point raised by all groups involved was the importance of having more events like this in Cambridge. So, if colleges are serious about widening opportunities for prospective ethnic minority students, there is no compelling reason why they are unable to make a difference.
As well as course taster sessions, the event also included lectures and mini-supervisions. Sherifat, of the London Academy of Excellence, said:
It was a wonderful insight into the teaching at Cambridge as well as the atmosphere not only in the University of Cambridge but also in the city.
Another student said:
It’s been made more realistic to apply. I feel like it is within my reach.
Teachers also responded positively, with one describing it as ‘one of the best access events I have attended for Oxbridge.’
In tailored sessions, teachers could question Trinity Admissions Tutor, Professor Adrian Poole, and Naomi Kellman, of Rare Recruitment, a company that offers a free programme to BME students applying to Oxford and Cambridge.
While students generally felt positive about Cambridge after attending the conference, the event was not intended simply to encourage more applications from BME candidates. Sarah explains:
My aim was to give students an accurate portrayal of Cambridge so that they could use this knowledge to make an informed decision about whether or not to apply. Hence, the students who didn’t feel Cambridge was for them can now redirect their energies to other great academic institutions or alternative post-A level options.
Terri-Leigh Riley (pictured above right) said everyone involved was enthusiastic.
We were overwhelmed with offers of support, which meant we were able to provide an incredible 18 teaching sessions on the day. This allowed for the groups to be small, despite the popularity of the event, so that students were able to experience a true insight into the Cambridge supervision system.