Simina Dragos is a postgraduate student at Cambridge's Faculty of Education and an activist for Roma rights. Here she reflects on the diversity of Fitzwilliam College.
How do you feel about the celebration of 40 years of women at Fitz?
It makes me sad that 45 years ago (for example), I could not have been part of this amazing College. We, as an academic community, have missed out on a significant amount of research and thought that could have been developed by women in all the years in which women were not part of Fitz, but also other colleges. However, I am also proud and happy that our community is so diverse and welcoming today, and look forward to many more years of women at Fitz.
Do you have any advice for prospective postgraduate students?
As someone who has completed her BA (and now studying for MPhil) at Cambridge, my advice is: trust yourself and be bold! Cambridge can be a very intimidating environment but you have worked hard for this opportunity and you definitely belong here. On the other had, once you get comfortable with Cambridge, do not take this privilege for granted and be self-reflexive about your practice and research at Cambridge and beyond.
Has anything surprised you about Cambridge? Have you faced any challenges?
When I joined as an undergraduate in 2016, I had this naive thought that being a Cambridge student, and then graduate, would protect me from sexism and xenophobia - almost as if this place could be like a superhero cape to protect me from the situations that had made me feel vulnerable before. That was not the case at all. Perhaps one of the most disappointing moments was realising that, no matter how much smarter or stronger I would become, sexism and sexual violence (not at Fitz - while I was at a different college) could still hurt me. Yet, I was also lucky enough to have an amazing network of women around me. Thus, I also learned the value of female solidarity at Cambridge.
What else do you do apart from your subject in Cambridge?
I mainly row and do yoga as a postgraduate. As an undergraduate I rowed, was on the JCR committee, took dancing classes, volunteered and ran a student society. They were all very fun and helpful activities, but sometimes rest is more important - which I also learned at Cambridge.
Why did you choose Cambridge? What made you choose Fitzwilliam?
I chose Fitzwilliam because of its impressively inclusive history. It seemed like a diverse community in which I could feel at home. I was lucky enough to find out that this was true.