The brains behind Trinity’s first BME conference

Political science student Sarah Lusack was inspired to organize a conference for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students after her experience of widening participation initiatives at Cambridge.

The sellout event at Trinity, on 9 November, will offer Year 12 students the chance to participate in a supervision, learn about the admissions process, hear from current BME students, and take part in ‘writing your personal statement’ workshops.

More than 110 students and teachers will attend the conference, which is designed to increase informed applications from BME students.

Sarah, who is the BME officer of Trinity College Students’ Union, explains her motivation:

Currently there isn’t a programme explicitly targeted at prospective students coming from racial and ethnic backgrounds that are under-represented at Cambridge. This sends a signal that this kind of diversity is not being seriously tackled.

The conference will offer students ‘an honest and realistic idea of what it’s like to study at Cambridge’. Sarah felt this was a particularly important aim of the day due to her own experiences.

When Sarah applied to Cambridge – originally to study philosophy – her Northampton Academy school supported her application but ‘didn’t have much knowledge about Cambridge and the different colleges etc.’

Thus, she has ensured the conference offers sessions for teachers.

They are often overlooked in access schemes despite being so central to the application process.

Sarah’s motivation stems from her experience at Cambridge. Recently admitted as a Senior Scholar at Trinity, in recognition of her high level performance in exams, she wants more from people under-represented groups to share her experience.

Cambridge offers an unparalleled university experience. The networks you can create, the things you can get involved with and the way you develop personally means you will come here and leave with much more than a degree.

However, she says BME students in particular, need to be resilient.

It is hard work and can be especially difficult to settle in here when you come from a background very different from those of the majority of students here.

But, as Sarah demonstrates so well,

It is possible not only to survive but to thrive in Cambridge as a person of colour.

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