Exeter College launched its own summer school in 2017, the Exeter College Summer Programme, attracting talented, hard-working undergraduates from prestigious universities around the world. We are delighted to announce that two students from the Summer Programme’s first intake will soon return to study Master’s degrees at the University of Oxford. Here one of those students, Katelyn Turner (pictured below), describes her time at the Summer Programme and how it gave her the confidence and experience to do what she once considered unimaginable and secure a full-time place at Oxford.
Before enrolling in the Exeter College Summer Programme (ECSP) in 2017, I had never thought of attending the University of Oxford as a graduate student. In fact, completing a degree abroad was not even a consideration prior to my experience in Oxford that summer. Being introduced to the tutorial system, the city and traditions of Oxford, and the merits of a global classroom allowed me to envision myself doing something no one in my family could have fathomed: becoming a student at the University of Oxford.
I had never been much of a Harry Potter fan growing up; still, something felt undeniably magical when I stepped foot onto Turl Street for the first time. The magic continued as the academic and other events devised by Jeri [Johnson, Exeter College’s Peter Thompson Fellow and Tutor in English], Academic Director, and Greg [Lewis], Programme Director, seemed to encapsulate every facet of student life at Oxford. I soon learned that the prestige of Oxford did not overshadow its warmth and welcoming nature, nor did it undermine its seriousness for learning and innovation, and I was challenged both intellectually and ethically in my chosen courses (Jurisprudence, Representing the Migrant Experience). Although the work was difficult at times, the effort put forth to make this programme resemble the actual College experience was truly valuable, and I am sure that submitting my ECSP transcript with my graduate application helped demonstrate my ability to succeed within the tutorial system.
Having the opportunity to speak to current Oxford undergraduate and graduate students also helped inform my decision to apply, but so did the standout memories of the program: having brunch just outside of the Radcliffe Camera; walking the streets of London before enjoying a marvelous show at Shakespeare’s Globe; having lunch or dinner with a professor/tutor and continuing a discussion from the lecture; learning the different cultures and customs of students’ home countries; partaking in one of Oxford’s oldest traditions, debate, in the beautiful Exeter College chapel; and finally, experiencing an exponential growth in perspective as a result of being abroad.
Most importantly, the experiences this program offered helped diminish my own insecurities; as a woman of color and descendant of American chattel slavery, I have been made to believe that my chances of studying at an institution as widely regarded as Oxford would be a longshot. But no matter the distance, every shot you do not take is a shot you are guaranteed to miss. I thank ECSP for helping me see that I, too, belong at Oxford, and for giving me the courage to take a shot others have said I had no business taking. A summer later, as I prepare to sit for the MSc in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation as a member of Wolfson College, I continue to look back fondly on my time at Exeter College.