Completing her thesis on urbanism in Colombia as a History undergraduate, Esmé Scantlebury came across the writing of Dr Felipe Hernández, Director of Cambridge’s Centre of Latin American Studies.
“My whole thought process flipped on its head,” she says now. “It completely changed the focus of my thesis, and I decided I wanted to come to Cambridge to do an MPhil.”
In the event, Esmé's year at Cambridge coincided with Dr Hernández's sabbatical year, so she never met the inspiration for her change in focus. Instead she worked with Dr Pedro Mendes Loureiro.
“I had the best relationship with my supervisor. He was super inspiring and supportive, and I'm now embarking on research for a journal thanks to him.”
While her Department was a straightforward decision, Esmé’s choice of College was less immediately obvious. After several College open days, she felt such a lack of connection that she considered withdrawing her application altogether.
“I said to my mum ‘I’m not sure Cambridge is for me after all’, and she said ‘well why don’t you at least visit the other Colleges on your list, just in case.’ So I visited Darwin and thought oh, I can see myself here.”
Through a combination of factors, from the fact that the Dean, Dr Duncan Needham, was “just like my History teacher”, to a current student mentioning that they had met 60% of their friends in the DarBar, Darwin immediately felt like home. Esmé lived in Newnham Terrace for the duration of her one-year course, a period she describes as “the best year of my life.”
“The gardens are so beautiful – my friends couldn’t believe it when they visited. And I absolutely loved all the talks, the Darwin Lecture Series and the Lunchtime Seminars. It was probably my favourite aspect of life at Darwin, that regular opportunity to attend talks about such a wide range of research. Well, that and the DarBar!”