'Cambridge and Caius are for everyone'

  • 03 September 2021

Ethan St Catherine (Chemical Engineering 2019) would encourage anyone contemplating whether Gonville & Caius College and the University of Cambridge is for them to ignore stereotypes and to apply.

“The one thing which guarantees you don’t get a place is if you don’t apply,” says Ethan, a Caius access ambassador.

“You’ve got five UCAS choices, so why not aim for Oxbridge? You may not want to – and that’s perfectly fine – but if you’re considering it, go for it.

“The odds actually aren’t that bad – roughly one in six applicants actually get a place at Caius and Cambridge, which is way better than you might expect when applying.”

Ethan wants to boost representation at Cambridge, particularly for Black and minority ethnic (BME) students. He understands why some prospective applicants may have misgivings but says their preconceptions can be proved wrong.

The one thing which guarantees you don’t get a place is if you don’t apply

He adds: “Every student of colour I’ve met has extra apprehensions when coming to a university like Cambridge, where stereotypes exist, but there is no one type of Cambridge student.

“The stereotypes are just wrong. You don’t have to change or ‘fit in’ for anyone, you can find your place.

“For example, there’s quite a large and active African Caribbean Society, who host a lot of events throughout the year and create a safe and welcoming space for Black students in Cambridge.

“I’ve met so many different people at Cambridge from all different walks of life, all different nationalities, sexual identities, races and so on. It really is a place for everyone.”

Ethan attended the state comprehensive Chalfonts Community College in Chalfont St Peter and co-educational sixth form at Dr Challoner's Grammar School in Amersham, both in Buckinghamshire. His generation is the first in his family to go to university, and he is the first to attend Cambridge or Oxford.

He visited Cambridge a few times and attended a Caius open day, prior to deciding his chosen college. He has since taken up rowing, played in the mixed netball team and is considering trying korfball in his third year. He has also enjoyed making viral TikToks with his roommate whilst in Cambridge (https://www.tiktok.com/@jonethan97).

He adds: “When I initially applied to Caius, it was on a bit of a whim. I came for an open day, enjoyed the vibe of the college and the facilities on show, the students were friendly, and I thought ‘let’s go for it’. It’s definitely paid off and I’m having a great time here.”

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