International student Ana Luisa Rubio-Jimenez is studying Educational Psychology - she talks about her commitment to widening participation and inclusivity.
How do you feel about the celebration of 40 years of women at Fitz?
I feel fortunate and happy to be a student at Fitzwilliam College on this very memorable date. Opening access to women to Fitzwilliam College was a great milestone that has allowed more women to exercise their right to a high-quality education. Therefore, I consider this a date that deserves to be celebrated.
Nevertheless, I also consider that commemorating this date should also be an opportunity to reflect on the issues and barriers that women - and other marginalised populations, still face today. Personally, this commemoration ratifies my commitment to pursue more inclusive and better-quality educational systems. This is the professional aim that I pursue from my area of expertise, which is Educational Psychology. In this regard, I was delighted to know that Fitzwilliam College has within its agenda the goal of continuing widening the participation of marginalised populations at this university.
Do you have any advice for prospective postgraduate students?
Choosing a college among 31 can be overwhelming. Even more when you are an international student who is not familiar with the college system and have to make a decision by visiting the colleges’ websites. However, the role that the colleges play in the life of a postgraduate student in Cambridge is very important. As postgraduate students, colleges can provide us with accommodation and financial support. I would advise prospective postgraduate students to look into the financial supports offered by the colleges as well as the amount of time for which the colleges offer accommodation to their students. These two elements could be crucial to keep focused on your studies without having to worry about where to live or what to do in case of an economic emergency.
I would personally recommend Fitzwilliam College because throughout my three years as a Cambridge postgraduate student it has offered me accommodation that suits my needs. In addition, I have received financial support from Fitz that has helped me to carry out fieldwork and lead with unforeseeable economic issues.
Has anything surprised you about Cambridge? Have you faced any challenges?
Something that pleasantly surprised me about Cambridge is that it is a much more “down to earth” community than I expected. Both at the Faculty of Education where I study and at Fitzwilliam College, I have found a lot of empathetic support to develop my potential from tutors, supervisors and peers.
Another thing that has surprised me a lot is the amount of extra-curricular activities that the University offers. From inspiring conferences open to the entire student community to an endless number of societies of diverse interests that the students can join.
Without a doubt, not everything has been easy throughout my studies at the University of Cambridge. I believe that one of the biggest challenges as international students is being away from our families and friends for long periods of time. However, Fitzwilliam College has become my home away from home. Here I have created very significant relationships that have comforted me in the most difficult moments.
What else do you do apart from your subject in Cambridge?
I love teaching and since I arrived in Cambridge I have found opportunities to get involved in meaningful teaching experiences. For two years I volunteered at Cambridge Student Community Action (SCA). SCA offers the opportunity to help vulnerable members of the Cambridge community through diverse projects. Given my personal interests, I decided to volunteer to visit a young man with special educational needs to enhance his reading skills. We saw each other once a week for two years. Without a doubt, this was a very enjoyable and significant experience for me.
In a similar path, I just joined The Scholars Programme which is a programme developed by a charity called The Brilliant Club for PhD students. The Scholars Programme has the objective of increasing the number of pupils progressing to highly selective universities. I will receive the training at the end of February and from there I will be able to carry out placements in state schools. I am very looking forward to starting this new adventure!
Why did you choose Cambridge? What made you choose Fitzwilliam?
I am Mexican and since I was very young I had the dream of studying a postgraduate degree abroad. I always thought I would study it at some university in the United States. However, while studying for my undergraduate degree in Mexico, I joined an international project funded by the British Academy in which researchers from the Faculty of Education of the University of Cambridge collaborated.
This collaboration led me to become interested in the research projects that were carried out in this Faculty and led me to make an application to pursue an MPhil in this institution. When making the MPhil application, I did not apply to Fitzwilliam but was lucky enough to be allocated at it when I was accepted by the University of Cambridge. My experience as a member of Fitzwilliam was so pleasant that when I made my PhD application I knew I wanted to stay at this College. Fitz is made up of a community of fun and friendly students and very supportive staff willing to help you with any inconvenience. I truly consider myself very fortunate and delighted to be a Cambridge student and a member of Fitzwilliam College.