When Jessica Beckett was offered a place at Cambridge as a Gates Cambridge scholar, she was clear where she wanted to be.

“I was a mature student, doing a PhD in Archaeology – I wanted to be around likeminded people. I didn’t want to be surrounded by 18-year-olds.”

It was while working on a neolithic dig in the Burren, in Ireland’s County Clare, during her Master’s degree, that the idea of Cambridge was first planted for Jessica. The project’s director who, like her, had been educated at state universities in California, had moved on to an academic career at Cambridge and suggested that she apply for a PhD.

“It opened up a series of possibilities,” she says now.

Darwin’s older student profile wasn’t the College’s only attraction.

“Even before I applied, I remember walking over the Silver Street bridge to Darwin and thinking ‘this is nice’. I liked its more intimate setting, and felt much more comfortable there than in the larger Colleges.”

Having steered clear of “that side of things” throughout high school and her previous university experiences, Jessica decided “almost immediately” to give student governance a try at Darwin.

“The position of International Rep was coming up, and that seemed a good way to start, with something a bit lighter – and I was international!”

A stint as College Council Rep followed the role of International Rep, before Jessica ran for DCSA President, enjoying the opportunity to represent Darwin’s students.

She remembers her priorities now as “cleaning up the bike shed” but says there was also a definite emphasis on events and entertainment, a focus which might have had something to do with the fact that her now husband, fellow Darwinian Massimiliano Molinari, was serving as ENTS Officer.

The couple met living in Gwen Raverat House and married while at Darwin. Their daughter, now 17, was born while Massimilano was in the final year of his PhD in Engineering.

“In fact, we had a baby shower in the DarBar!” Jessica remembers. “She was very much a baby Darwinian.”

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