‘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.’


A Celebration of the Lloyds Scholars Programme


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!

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.

Introducing Stephanie…

Stephanie Kemp is an undergraduate studying Geography at St. Peter’s College and wants to ensure that the fee hike doesn’t stop students applying to Oxford.
Stephanie Kemp


When I was applying to university, I originally wasn’t planning to apply to Oxford because I never thought I would have the chance of being offered a place. My decision to apply to Oxford was based on the recommendations of my teachers. I probably would not have applied if I had not been encouraged by them. I loved the course here and life in Oxford looks so exciting, with so much happening all the time. When I think back at all the incredible opportunities I have had here, I can’t believe that I almost didn’t apply! I now take the opportunity as often as possible to help with the many access schemes running and to help others, as others helped me when I visited the open days.

I would hate to think that someone else worthy of a place would miss out on an Oxford education, whether it is for a lack of accurate information, low confidence, or for financial reasons. The tuition fee rise is bound to make students think twice about applying to university, and for this reason it is so important to make sure that all those who have the ability are still able to study at Oxford with the help of bursaries and scholarships.

Introducing Ernesto from El Salvador

Ernesto Oyarbide is studying a Master of Studies in Literature and Arts part-time through Kellogg College and is mainly based in Spain. Here he discusses life as an Oxford student overseas and the need for increased funding for students from Latin America.

Ernesto Oyarbide

My name is Ernesto Oyarbide. I am originally from El Salvador, though I have been living and working in Spain for some time now. I am presently doing a Master of Studies in Literature and Arts (part-time). I have always been a fan of Oxford, which places great importance in not only professional outcomes but also personal development. To be accepted was like a dream come true.

Thanks to the generous support of the Santander Travel Award (and my own funds), I have recently moved from Pamplona to Madrid to conduct a research stay at the Royal Library in Spain.

I am very invested in the study of the humanities. I wish to specialise in the cultural relations between European Civilizations. This may sound as a very ‘bookish’ topic. Nonetheless, I firmly believe that societies need the humanities in order to be able to establish a better democracy. This is certainly true when we come to think about my native country (El Salvador), where lack of education and culture present themselves as two major challenges for development.

In future I would like to help my country in overcoming these handicaps. That is why I am presently learning about development policies through my work and I am specialising in cultural studies at Oxford. Being an overseas student makes it harder to satisfy expenses for postgraduate education in Europe. That is why I needed a job, so that I could cover costs. Luckily, Kellogg College has also been very supportive by granting me a bursary.

I am very passionate about funding. Being part of Oxford is a great experience, but it has also meant a lot of sacrifice. I would like to address the lack of funding for part-time students and the almost non-existent specific funds for Latin Americans. Did you know that most Central American countries have never had more than 10 students at Oxford ever? I am student number 7 for El Salvador! I would like that to change by making student funding more readily available.

During the coming months, I will be going to the Royal Palace in Madrid on a daily basis in order to consult some very valuable diplomatic archives held in there (more about that in my next post). Madrid is quite an experience. Its people, its streets, its restaurants and parks… Everything has a very Castillian taste around it that is also sparkled with cosmopolitan influences and people from all around the world! I will keep you posted on how things go. In the meantime, I think I will be having that famous and relaxing café con leche in Plaza Mayor that has been so much advertised by Madrid’s Mayor on the past Olympic Committee gathering.