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Student Experiences


Mark Stevens came to Selwyn from the University of Canterbury, Christchurch. He read for a PhD in Physics:

“Coming to Selwyn from New Zealand to study for a PhD, I was a little apprehensive about what life in a Cambridge College would be like. However, when I arrived I was glad to find that my preconceptions, which had been based on the stereotypical image of such places, were wrong. The size of this College means that I don’t get the feeling of being lost among the crowds, but at the same time there are enough like-minded people about so that feeling isolated is never a problem.”

Sarah Haydon came to Selwyn from the University of Birmingham and read for a PhD in Chemistry:

“When I arrived in Cambridge I was somewhat sceptical about how I would fit in. Coming from the University of Birmingham you can’t really get much more different! However, I soon found that my perception of the stereotypical Cambridge College didn’t apply to Selwyn (or to much of the rest of the University for that matter). The student population covers all backgrounds making it a stimulating mix. From the Graduate point of view, Selwyn is very generous with its accommodation. The MCR provides excellent Graduate representation within College and a focus for its various social events. My time here has been one of the best experiences of my life.”

Robin J. Steinke came to Selwyn from Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Ohio, and read for a PhD in Theology:

“One enters into research not only to gain credentials but to refine methodology and present findings. In the Arts this discipline can sometimes be rather isolating. This means that the context in which research is done takes on important significance. The sense of community is enhanced when graduates, undergraduates and Fellows have the chance to talk at regular theologians’ dinners, in the gardens, in the MCR or in the Hall. But what happens when things go awry? When at one stage they went awry for me, context again was very important. Gradually things got sorted and I was grateful for the community here, for my colleagues and for my supportive Tutor. Without a doubt, Selwyn would be my first choice again!”

John Rigg Came To Selwyn From The RNIB New College, Worcester to read for the Economics Tripos. He continued his studies and read for an MPhil in Economics and completed a PhD Degree in that field too:

“Before I came to Selwyn, I remember someone describing it as a ‘friendly’ College. I also remember cringing somehwat at what I regarded as a fairly empty platitutude. Having been immersed in Selwyn life as a blind undergraduate and postgraduate, I can think of no more apt accolade, no more telling tribute than to recommend Selwyn as a truly friendly College. What other word could better describe a College that time after time has supported me by providing accommodation and equipment, and a community from which literally hundreds have volunteered countless hours of reading aloud? It’s a place that simply feels more home than home.”

Sandro Loviso studied for the part-time MSt in International Relations and continued his studies by reading for a part-time PhD at Cambridge:

“Apart from the outstanding academic staff and beautiful architecture, I’m convinced that one of Selwyn’s additional great assets is its students’ excellence and diversity. Altogether the College provides an academically challenging and demanding frame, never neglecting to offer a homelike feel.”

Tobias Billström an MPhil in History and graduated in 2002. He is now an MP in the Swedish Parliament:

“What struck me right from the beginning, apart from the kindness and informality of the College, was the great weight put on student participation. Selwyn’s atmosphere and its high academic standards all contribute to bringing out the best in all people at the College, from the youngest undergraduate to the nearly finished PhD student. To live and work in close relationship with people from literally all four corners of the earth at Selwyn was indeed a very rewarding experience of diversity.”

Mark Dwyer came to Selwyn from Oxford Brookes University. He read for a PhD in Polar Studies:

“What about a College?” I asked my supervisor when filling out forms. “Selwyn is pretty!” he replied. Indeed, the College is pretty, but it is much more than that. At Selwyn you are treated as an individual and with respect. You are also encouraged to think big and will be given all the support you need to help you succeed. Selwyn has ambition, so if you want to be part of a vibrant community where you will not be ‘just another number’ then Selwyn is no doubt the place to be.”

Raffaella Commitante came to Selwyn from the California State University. She read for a PhD in Anatomy:

“I remember approaching my arrival at Cambridge University with great trepidation. I knew I would be considerably older than most of the other postgraduates. To my surprise I was accepted! Better than that, I was not merely accepted, but I was accepted unconditionally – and that, after all, is the best kind of friendship to be in! Despite my sometimes (well, most times) being twice the age of many of the students, I never, ever felt it! The amazing friends I have made whilst at Cambridge will I hope remain friends long after I leave. I will never forget them, nor the time I have spent here at Cambridge.”

Sandra Ramloll came to Selwyn from the Graduate School of Chemistry and Physics, Bordeaux (ENSCPB). She took a PhD in Materials Science and is currently working for Shell Mauritius Ltd:

“When I first arrived in Selwyn College I was somewhat awed by the beauty and the sense of tranquillity of the place. I also felt a bit lost since I did not know anyone in Cambridge and had never lived in the UK before. Thanks to Freshers’ Week and the different activities organized by the MCR, I soon got over that feeling. Being a member of Selwyn gave me the opportunity to meet students of different origins, backgrounds and in areas of research very different from mine. This proved to be a very enriching and interesting experience and allowed me to make some very good friends. The Fellows and members of the College staff also provide support to students and help in creating that comforting feeling of belonging to one big family, which is particularly important for foreigners who are very far from home. The tutors are a source of great help in times of difficulty, and I personally feel that without all the support I got from them and my friends in the College, it would have been difficult for me to complete my PhD successfully. What I miss the most about the place is Selwyn, which I came to consider over the years as my second home.