Xandra Robinson-Burns (2010, English)

Xandra is an essayist, and the Founder of HeroineTraining.com.

Xandra Robinson-Burns, an essayist and the Founder of HeroineTraining.com.

I teach women to own their stories, and to care for themselves as much as they do for characters in literature.

As soon as I set foot in Oxford off the coach from Heathrow, I was enchanted. I was fifteen, attending a summer programme, and this was my first trip to the UK. I couldn’t believe that one place could hold so many fictional worlds that I treasured. The more I learned about the university and the tutorial system, the more I knew that I had to return as a student.

To this day, reading English at Oxford is the one example I use of pursuing a goal with absolute certainty. It did not take long for my Oxford dream to narrow to Exeter College in particular. I chose it on the recommendation of my summer teacher Jo Humphreys (2004, English), but I’ll admit – really, I wanted to attend Lyra’s Jordan College.

As an undergraduate at Exeter, I founded a blog that would become my business: Heroine Training. I couldn’t shake the American way of studying literature, where I was relating what I read to my own sense of self. My blog became an outlet for insights that were too personal for my coursework.

Through my essays and programmes on Heroine Training, I teach women to own their stories, and to care for themselves as much as they do for characters in literature. I specialise in daily life personal development in my Everyday Wonderland accountability club, and host Heroine Training Tea Parties in small cafes.

Beyond my academic studies, so much of my experience at Exeter shaped what I do now: I learned sales as a telethon caller, marketing through Drama Cuppers, and hosting tea parties by gathering friends in my Turl Street accommodation. At Exeter I learned to ask for help, even when I was most intimidated. I learned how to learn – and what all the forks are for in Formal Hall.