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Beth Oliver, 21, is from Peterborough and recently completed her undergraduate degree in English.
Beth attended a state comprehensive school, Arthur Mellows Village College where she benefited from a number of Oxbridge access opportunities that helped her understand what it would be like to study at Oxbridge as well as the value of applying. She also attended UNIQ, a summer school programme for state school students designed to provide a realistic understanding of student life at an Oxbridge College. As a result of this support, five of her year group ended up applying and Beth successfully secured a place at Churchill College. She has since returned to her old school several times to talk about her experience and encourage other applicants to follow in her footsteps.
Churchill proved to be the ideal destination for Beth who recalls being made to feel welcome as soon as she arrived. Describing the College as ‘a supportive community that is there for you when you need them – academically and pastorally’ she has particular praise for the informality, space and location of the College.
‘The location protects you a little bit from some of the craziness of Cambridge City centre, for example, you don’t have to worry about the tourists, you have this open space, you don’t have to worry about the formality of wearing gowns and there’s not much use of Latin before formals. Other Colleges sell themselves as having got rid of a lot of the old traditions but I feel that on the quiet Churchill has been doing that all along’
Financial support for Beth came in the form of a full Cambridge bursary for £3,500, which she received when her family circumstances changed unexpectedly at the start of her final year. She is no doubt that not having to worry about financial hardship at this time was crucial to her ability to complete a successful final year, as well her ability to plan next steps for her future career.
Beth’s interests lie firmly rooted in theatre, and she made excellent use of the vibrant theatrical opportunities available at Cambridge, producing several shows at the ADC. She was also the social media co-ordinator for a show that ran for two weeks in London and is hoping to build a career that develops her interest in theatre access work.
One final memory she will treasure from her time at Churchill is connected with culinary experimentation with friends in the college gyp rooms, ‘working out what is possible to achieve with only a microwave and two hobs!’