Growing into study

  • 01 November 2021

Ella Hopcroft was encouraged to continue her studies as the enjoyment of her subject grew through her undergraduate years.

Ella (Philosophy 2018) opted to continue at the University of Cambridge and Caius for a Masters. Learn about life as a postgraduate student at Caius on our website, and visit us this week

“I really enjoy my subject, but I definitely enjoyed it more as I went on. At the beginning it was fairly prescriptive, with five compulsory papers in first year, but the more you could branch out later on, the more I found you could explore and develop your own areas of interest,” she says.

“I only wrote my first piece of coursework in third year and I preferred that to exams. It was good to spend more time on a piece of work, and then have written something to feel proud of by the end of the year.

“I quite wanted to do that again, as I almost felt like I was only just getting into it by the end.”

I almost felt like I was only just getting into it by the end

The circumstances – lifting of Covid-19 pandemic restrictions and being able to defer a Civil Service role which will now begin in September 2022 – also contributed to Ella’s decision to stay on.

She admits she considered choosing a different college, but she likes working at Caius and with Professor Arif Ahmed MBE; the Director of Studies’ talk at a University open day was one of the reasons she chose Caius in the first place.

“He’s academically brilliant and a very good teacher; I’ve really appreciated having him as my DoS over the years,” she says.

The familiarity of Caius – the place and the people – saw Ella opt to stay. She was in Cambridge for much of lockdown and says the Porters provided welcome personal interactions.

“It makes a bigger difference than you realise in making a place feel more homely,” she says.

“To have friendly faces and meaningful relationships around it made it a much easier decision to stay.”

Ella is a Caius access ambassador. She attended a selective grammar for GCSE and an independent school for A-Level, believing the switch from Tiffin Girls’ School in Kingston, southwest London, to St Paul’s in central London, was more challenging than coming to Cambridge, with the commute and change of environment.

She enjoys meeting prospective applicants and dispensing practical advice on “the social scene and societies, accommodation, laundry, what the food is like, where to leave bikes”.

“The University can seem like a massive unknown, so just sharing information on a personal level is important,” she says.

Ella, whose mother is Indo-Guyanese, is a co-founder of the University-wide Mixed Heritage Society, an open and inclusive space for students of mixed heritage to socialise and discuss shared experiences.

“It was surprising how many people at Caius I found had similar sorts of experiences, so I set it up with a friend also doing Caius Philosophy,” she says.

“It’s become a great place to discuss the general experiences around language, food and identity that are often associated with being from multi-racial and cultural backgrounds. It’s been a sociable and supportive environment so far, and I am excited for us to actually establish the community in person after being online for a year.”

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