Ellie Brain

Ellie Brain

Ellie is a third year geography student from the North-East, and has been JCR (Junior Common Room – the college’s Student Union) president at Fitz 2018-19. She identifies with a number of CUSU’s (Cambridge University Student Union’s) ‘liberation campaigns’.

Before I applied for Cambridge, I watched the film 'The Riot Club'. To be honest it put me off Oxbridge entirely for years - the entitlement, sexism, ableism, and privilege of the Oxbridge Institution was dramatically exposed through film. There was not a role for me in that film, a part was not there. However, apprehensively I applied, and I absolutely love it. It has changed my life and I think I am a part of changing the life of Cambridge.

As an LGBT woman from the North East of England without an hour of private education in their life, there are deep rooted assumptions of what you will be and what you can become. When I was at school and I told my careers advisor I wanted to apply for Oxbridge, he laughed the second he saw I was studying a BTEC and suggested I should be a hairdresser instead. I therefore would like to say I challenge the stereotype of Cambridge, but I also challenge the stereotype of Northern working-class women. We are smart, we are passionate, we are inquisitive, and we thrive in the stimulating, extraordinary educational environment that is the University of Cambridge. We belong at Fitzwilliam College, and every other College in Oxbridge.

Fitz is an amazing college and is the college at the core of instigating change in regards to access. As JCR President I have also been very thankful to Fitz for granting student participation and discussion in college matters. This year the JCR has successfully cut the rent during rent negotiations, we have contributed to the Living Wage being brought into College, and we have organised a photo to commemorate 40 years of women at Fitzwilliam. We have made college more accessible for those with mobility needs and have run a Fitz-specific access scheme for students from Cumbria, Cheshire, Fulham, and Hammersmith. Access is at the core of the JCR's principles and I am grateful College has taken our ideas and projects, proudly investing its time, funds, and resources into helping us blow those Cambridge stereotypes out of the water.