‘Studying at Oxford became the experience that transformed my life’

Marisa in the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford – John Cairns Photography

Marisa is originally from Maine in the United States. She received funding from the University to complete her DPhil in History of Medicine, and she acts as a Student Ambassador. Here she speaks about her experiences at Oxford:

‘When I walked through the gates of Worcester College as a study abroad student from Yale University in 2004, I never would have imagined that ten years later I would still be in Oxford and about to complete my doctorate in the history of medicine.  Studying at Oxford became the experience that transformed my life, opened up my world, and altered my plans for the future. It has been a remarkable journey, and I have been lucky enough to be part of several special communities during my time at Oxford.

Worcester was my first college, and it was a wonderful place to first explore living in a different culture. Everything was new and exciting. From reading my essays aloud in my tutorials to rowing in Summer Eights, my two terms there were spent happily being introduced to new experiences, people, and the rich history and traditions of Oxford.  It was here that I made the connections with tutors who have turned into mentors and friends over the years, and I also began to focus my academic interest in the history of medicine.

After working for two years in the U.S., I returned to pursue the M.Sc. in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at Lincoln College. Lincoln was a fantastic place to experience life as a postgraduate student. The Middle Common Room was a vibrant group of students from all over the world, and my busy days of lectures and seminars were balanced by dinners with friends in formal hall that casually progressed to drinks and more conversation in the college bar.  It was different than my Worcester experience, but in a good way, and I enjoyed being part of a graduate community within a small and friendly college.

I returned again to Oxford, after two more years of working, to complete my D.Phil. in the History of Medicine at Christ Church.  A partial History Faculty and Christ Church studentship enabled me to take my D.Phil. place, and additional scholarships allowed me to embark on my doctoral research with renewed energy and focus. Being at Oxford as a doctoral student was yet another change, but again I was introduced to different ideas, people, and opportunities that made the experience deeply rewarding. I was able to teach, give papers at conferences, participate in graduate seminars, discuss my research ideas and develop my project through conversations with colleagues.  I participated in conferences that helped me to see the connections between my project on early modern attitudes toward infertility and concerns surrounding modern reproductive technologies, and became part of a network of scholars working on the issue across a variety of historical periods and academic disciplines.

I have been lucky enough to experience Oxford in a variety of ways over the last decade, and each experience inspired confidence and curiosity that has grown through the years. My time at Oxford has taught me to be a better historian and has fundamentally changed my own history as well.’

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Meet Karine, who has just returned from a Santander-funded research trip to Ethiopia…

Karine is studying for an MPhil (Master’s) in Development Studies at St John’s College. Her studies are fully-funded by Santander, the Clarendon Fund and her College. Here she explains how she came from Sao Paulo in Brazil to be studying at Oxford, and the difference the funding has made to her future career.

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Applying for an MPhil in Development Studies at Oxford was certainly one of the best decisions I’ve made, potentially only comparable to the decision to accept the Oxford offer. My application was entirely written as I sat on the floor of a slum in Sao Paulo, while working as an MIT D-Lab trip leader. The constant thought in my mind was a rather simple one: ‘I have no idea what my chances are, but I just have to try.’ And everything somehow fell into place…

My name is Karine and I was born and raised in Brazil. I completed my undergraduate studies in 2013 at MIT (USA), with a double BSc in Physics and in Political Science. All throughout my time there, I had been involved in development projects. But the final decision to pursue international development as a career came only as I received a scholarship to study at Oxford. The combined scholarships from Santander, the Clarendon Fund and St John’s College have allowed me to turn down an offer for a full time position at a management consulting company and follow my dream to study development – a difficult decision, but one I would have never been able to do without funding. Oxford has been a fantastic experience in so many ways! The academic rigour of the university is balanced by a rich social life that fosters connections between people working on the most diverse areas.

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The generous funding I am receiving has allowed me not only to come to Oxford, but also to go to Ethiopia for fieldwork. I spent this past summer in Addis Ababa, conducting fieldwork for my MPhil thesis and collaborating with a project in the Oxford Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE). My MPhil thesis is a continuation of a research project I worked on while at the World Bank, focusing on self-employment and entrepreneurship as engines for job creation. There is much we still need to understand about the nature of self-employment in developing countries. Under which conditions do urban youth opt for self-employment? Which circumstances allow them to remain in this occupation – and thrive? Finally, what makes them abandon self-employment, and what are their job prospects like once they leave self-employment? The collaboration with CSAE allows me to conduct qualitative and quantitative research with a random sample of individuals in Addis Ababa, a rare and precious opportunity.

Every day, I am reminded of how grateful I am for the opportunity to be here and to learn from the incredible people around me – be it in Oxford or in Addis Ababa. In addition to the material means to study at Oxford, the scholarships I received have also provided me with two invaluable things: the confidence that I belong in the field of development, and the drive to make the most out of my time here. If Oxford is your dream university, I highly encourage you to give it a chance and apply as well – everything might just fall into place for you too. 

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A Celebration of the Lloyds Scholars Programme

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On 16th June 2014, thirty Oxford students who are provided bursaries by Lloyds Bank joined a whole host of other Scholars from other universities to celebrate the Lloyds Scholars Programme and express their gratitude for the support they have received.

Lloyds’ Chief Executive, António Horta-Osório, welcomed the Scholars to this special event in Westminster Palace. It was a fantastic chance for students who are currently provided financial support from Lloyds to meet each other, and share their experiences about the difference the support has made to their studies.

Lloyds offers young people from lower income households a unique combination of financial support, paid work experience, mentoring and the chance to develop their employability skills. This industry experience is key, as it provides young students with networks that they would not otherwise have had access to. As part of the programme, Scholars complete 100 hours of volunteering, which is a great opportunity for them to give back to the local community and take on additional development opportunities.

On behalf of the Scholars – thank you Lloyds, for your fantastic support!

Introducing Riaz…

Riaz Agha has been awarded several scholarships during his time at the University of Oxford: firstly, to fund his studies for a part time MSc in Surgical Science and Practice at Kellogg College, and then to allow him to study at Balliol College for a doctorate. Riaz explains here how the funding he has received has improved his practice and brought benefits to patients.

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As a trainee in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, I was delighted to be awarded two scholarships to study for the new part time MSc in Surgical Science and Practice at Oxford University. Gaining such financial assistance was crucial to me being able to complete the MSc without enduring excessive financial hardship.  The MSc itself was a fantastic programme and allowed me to acquire knowledge and skills that will be useful for the rest of my career.  For example in areas such as; evidence based healthcare, how to be a medical educator, human factors, teamwork and communication, leadership and management, quality and systems analysis and surgical technology and robotics.

It was during my MSc that I applied for a doctorate and was extremely lucky to be awarded a Clarendon Scholarship that would cover all my fees (including those of Balliol College!).  Scholarship funding has made me a more effective and well-rounded surgical trainee and is bringing real benefits to patients.  My development has become more holistic and crucially I have the opportunity to develop my clinical and academic careers congruently.  This has led to rich and unique synergies and collaborations with others internationally, on projects that really engage me, and link in with my clinical development.

Surgical trainees should definitely consider Oxford as a premier place to do a higher degree, develop themselves and their network further.

Charlotte is mad about Classics

Charlotte McLean studies undergraduate Classics IC at Somerville College, here is her story.

Charlotte McLean

 

I was lucky enough to attend a comprehensive school with a truly excellent Classics department. Without the help, support and enthusiasm of my Greek teacher, it never would have occurred to me to study Classics, and without her encouragement I certainly would not have considered it possible for me to ever get into Oxford. I love Classics and I love my degree, and I want as many people as possible to be offered the opportunity to study Classics, and to study Classics at Oxford, where the teaching, especially the language teaching, is of phenomenal quality. I decided to apply to Oxford because the rigour of the language teaching was attractive to me, especially as someone who would be learning Latin from scratch. Needless to say, my beginner Latin classes with Juliane Kercheker have been utterly wonderful, inspiring a love of grammar and linguistics in me which I never envisaged waxing so strongly. I was worried before I arrived that everyone would be far advanced in their language compared to me, given that I had received fewer years of classical education at school, especially compared to many who attend top public schools. To my pleasant surprise, the Classics course is incredibly mixed, with a huge range of students from many different backgrounds, with varying experience in Latin and Greek.

Unfortunately, both the University and the course sometimes suffer under misconceptions of being old fashioned and un-diverse, myths so well diffused amongst schools and young people that I almost decided not to apply; I am indebted to my Greek teacher who had the sense to reassure me that these ideas were incorrect. Having actually got here, it is clear to me that these visions of Oxford and Classics are untrue, and it is utterly unfair on young people, some of whom could gain huge benefit and joy out of studying here, that such falsehoods may discourage application.