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From Sydney to Trinity: ‘winning the prize has definitely transformed my life’

When Sydney high school student Lauren Park entered Trinity’s Robert Walker Essay Prize Competition in 2017, she had no expectations. Little did she know that taking part would transform her university plans, and lead to her studying thousands of miles away from home. Lauren said:

I knew I wanted to study Law at University and I did not have many opportunities at school to explore the subject in depth. In Australia, there were no subjects offered in relation to Law so when I wrote my essay I did not imagine that it would place at all. I wrote the essay not only to fuel my curiosity but also to develop my academic research and critical writing skills.

Lauren Park at Trinity

134 other students submitted essays in Lauren’s year but she beat the competition to win the 2017 prize in the International Division and, after visiting Cambridge, decided to apply to Trinity.

‘Trinity was the only UK institution I applied to and if I had not gotten in I would have been studying Law in Australia. Winning the prize has definitely transformed my life: I am studying on the other side of the world and starting my career in another country – I have a training contract at a UK law firm,’ said Lauren.

All in all, it has really helped me to go beyond my comfort zone and experience more of what the world has to offer.

This year’s Robert Walker Essay Prize invites entries on the question: ‘Should legal disputes be determined by artificial, rather than human, means?’

The deadline is Monday 13 April 2020.

This prize was created in 2013 and named after former Trinity law student Robert Walker, who became Lord Walker of Gestingthorpe, an Honorary Fellow of the College and a Justice of the Supreme Court.

Lord Walker, now retired, is an enthusiastic supporter of Law at Trinity, engaging with students and helping connect the practice of the profession with its academic study. He selects the winning entries in the UK and International Divisions of the essay prize competition.

Prize giving ceremony at Trinity 2017

Dr Benjamin Spagnolo, Trinity Fellow in Law, said:

The Robert Walker Essay Prize is a terrific opportunity for students to explore an interest in law by developing and expressing their views on a topical legal theme. It is a great pleasure to read each year’s entries and to involve enthusiastic students from around the world in this competition.

In addition to welcoming the top performers to Trinity for the annual prize-giving, we often have the pleasure of meeting entrants in person at interview; the Competition attracts impressively bright and engaged students, many of whom later apply to read Law in Cambridge and receive offers from Trinity or other colleges.

Apart from Law, Trinity College offers essay prizes for Year 12 (lower sixth) students in English, Linguistics, Philosophy, Politics and History. Trinity College Essay Prizes has details of each competition including the deadline.

Director of Admissions at Trinity, Dr Glen Rangwala, who has been organising the Politics essay competition since 2011, said the prizes offered a great opportunity to have fun writing, go beyond the A-level syllabus, and discover if a university course is for you.

Choosing which degree course to apply to is a major decision for students in their sixth form. It’s especially daunting if you are thinking of applying to a subject that you haven’t studied in detail before. The essay prize competition gives you a great chance to try out a piece of university-style work in that subject. If you found writing the essay was an engaging process – if you kept wanting to read and think some more about the subject matter – then maybe that degree course is for you?

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