As applications open for the Humanities Residential, 5-7 April 2016, Terri-Leigh Riley explains what to expect – and how and why she came to be Schools Liaison Officer at Trinity.
I’m from Jarrow, near Newcastle, and I studied Theology and Religious Studies at Sidney Sussex College. I loved Cambridge so much that I spent loads of my free time as a student doing access work for my college, and when it came to graduating I couldn’t bear to leave, so I applied and got the job of Schools Liaison Officer at Trinity.
I still can’t believe how lucky I am to get paid for doing something I care about and enjoy so much – it’s a lot of fun. I didn’t attend any widening participation activities as a school student, in fact I didn’t see Cambridge at all until the day of my interview. I did a lot of research online though, and I watched videos of Cambridge students’ experiences of uni and remember thinking they were nothing like the stereotypes.
I really wish I had attended a residential or something similar because I think it would have calmed my nerves a lot in the run up to starting Cambridge as a fresher. As the first in my family to do A Levels or go to uni, I was incredibly worried about fitting in, but I felt settled within a couple of hours of meeting people.
Why does Trinity run residentials?
Trinity Residentials are one of the most fun parts of my job! We run them to give students a detailed insight into what being a student is like, and also to get them thinking about their chosen subjects beyond what they learn at school. We hope that they find the lectures and teaching sessions engaging, and go on to do more thinking and learning about whatever inspires them most. That’s what Cambridge is all about, and we want to give the students a serious taste of that.
Are these events different from those offered by other colleges?
Trinity’s Residentials are different to many others, in that you apply as an individual rather than as a school. This means that our residentials have students meeting each other from all over the UK, which is really different from going along with all your school friends – it’s a great glimpse into starting university as a fresher. Loads of our residential students make friends and keep in touch when they leave.
Who are residentials aimed at?
We want to make the most impact we possibly can so we really welcome students who have little experience of Cambridge, or university in general. Students who don’t have any family history of going to university might worry that they have a lot to learn about the whole process – and that’s exactly what we offer. So if you feel unsure about uni or even about applying for this residential, then please do apply – you’re exactly the person we want to come!
This residential, 5-7 April, is ideal for students who are considering studying History, English, Human Social and Political Sciences, Geography, Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, History of Art and Architecture. If humanities are not your thing, don’t worry, we will run other courses this summer for Language-based Humanities subjects, Law and Biology.
What do you hope participants will take away from the experience?
We want students to learn a lot and have a brilliant time. I hope that they feel more confident about their university applications – and that Trinity, Cambridge, or university in general, is right for them. Even if they don’t apply here, if they gain from our lectures and write about them in their personal statements, that could make a real difference to their university applications.
What is your role during a residential?
I oversee all of the logistics with the help of my brilliant team of Trinity student volunteers – that includes organising all of the lectures, room bookings, meals and museum visits. I do a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff, and I’m responsible for making sure everyone’s safe, happy and having a good time. I’m also there to help with any pastoral concerns – I’m the person you should ring if you get lost or you don’t feel well.
What for you has been the most inspiring aspect of these events?
By far the most inspiring part for me has been seeing students apply and get offers to Trinity after attending a residential. Trinity offered a place to a student on our Language-based Humanities Residential. She said that the residential inspired her to apply – that was an amazing feeling! These events aren’t designed to push or sell Trinity – they’re to raise aspirations towards Cambridge as a whole, other top universities and university in general. But when we do get someone applying after attending a residential, it’s incredibly exciting.
Have you introduced any changes to the residentials’ programme?
I’ve booked tickets for everyone to see ‘Singing in the Rain’ at the ADC Theatre for free on the forthcoming residential and I’m really excited about that! Having organised so many now, I know what tends to get the students chatting to each other and I’ve sat through enough lectures to know the best ones that I definitely want to request again.
Do you have any memorable moments?
I accidently stumbled on a group of students up at night when they were supposed to be in bed – everyone has an ensuite room so there’s no need to be up after 11pm. One girl got such a fright when she saw me that she screamed – it was really funny (I obviously wasn’t going to be angry and am not at all scary!) She got a place at Trinity to do music and I bump into her quite a lot – I think she’s having a great time.