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Barbora Janulikova, 26, is from Southern Moravia in the Czech Republic and is in the third year of a PhD in Archaeology at Churchill.
Barbara first came to Churchill in 2012 to complete an MPhil in Egyptology before starting her PhD and her special area of interest is the origins of Egyptian funerary culture, around 600 years before the pyramids were built.
Barbora’s parents used all of their savings to help fund her MPhil and she knew her hopes of studying for a PhD at Churchill relied on securing funding elsewhere. Support for her fees came from the Arts and Humanities Research Council but Barbora was not eligible for a full award and it was only when she received an unexpected email from Churchill offering up to £9K a year to cover her living expenses that she was finally able to accept her dream offer to study for a PhD at the College.
"Receiving the award from Churchill has meant absolutely everything to me. It’s not just the financial aspect – it’s also the gesture. Imagine the situation; you’re desperately trying to secure your prospects for the next year to take up this great opportunity to study for a PhD at Cambridge but you don’t have the money and at the same time I was still in the middle of completing my masters course, then one day you receive an email…"
Studying at Cambridge has been a life-changing experience for Barbora both academically and personally and she points to the different tradition of thought that confronted her when she first came to Churchill, which was in stark contrast to her previous educational experience in Austria.
I was confronted with a different tradition of thought – the number of pages you have memorised matters less than your originality of thought and questioning things. Somehow in me it really filled a void and made me confident. In terms of my personal life it made a huge difference to my growth as a human being. Cambridge was the first place I felt accepted for who I am. I was approached as an equal at all times by people who were senior to me.
She particularly loves how unpretentious the College is and how welcoming Churchill was to her partner. Their decision to choose Churchill was based on the fantastic family accommodation available and she feels that this is also the biggest asset the College has from a graduate point of view – the fact that families and couples are made to feel so welcome and part of the community. Another benefit she identifies is the positive impact of the Collegiate College system on her academic life and the opportunity to mix with students from different disciplines; ‘It stimulates you so much – you get fresh thoughts, different points of view, perspectives, ideas which have been absolutely crucial to my academic work’.
Barbora also discovered rowing when she first came to Churchill and became the ladies captain before joining the CUWBC trialling process in October 2015. The College helped meet the financial cost of participating at this level by giving her a grant of £360 to cover the cost of attending the mandatory training camp as well as the £60 per term membership fee and increased nutritional costs. She committed herself to the 40 hour per week training routine demanded by all those on the training team which she describes as ‘amazing’ despite breaking her ribs. Ultimately, she didn’t make the final squad but she now rows for the Cantabrigian rowing club and hugely values the opportunity to train as an elite sportsperson.
Beyond her PhD, she plans to either become an academic in her field or pursue a career that would tie-in data analysis work with international development, making use of her language skills in Arabic and passion for the region.