Meerkats, Magdalene and Memories

As a return caller to the telephone campaign (after a year’s hiatus), I knew roughly what I was getting into when I signed up this year. So, while it seems like a lot hadn’t changed, between March 2015 (when I last participated in the campaign) and now, I seem to have gone from being a doe eyed first year PhD student to somehow finding myself in my third and last year in Magdalene! I seemed to have started and finished collecting all the data I needed for my PhD, and despite not having spent very much time in College (thanks to being away playing with meerkats in South Africa) made some extremely close friends here, found time to be a part of one too many societies, the May Ball committee as well as enjoy a life outside of my academic circle!

I admit, sitting and analysing your data in Cambridge is not as fun as being out in the sunshine watching meerkats being quirky and fascinating. This is probably why I have decided to pepper my writing up process with short, fun activities such as this campaign!

This year’s campaign has been so different compared to my last in a myriad of ways. The conversations I’m having, the response rate and the atmosphere in the call room have all been brilliant! We’re just over halfway through and have already raised £150,000 with a fabulous giving rate of around 65% of the people we speak to choosing to make a gift! And yes, while we are fundraising, I personally absolutely love speaking to alumni and hearing about their time in College. I spoke to someone the other day who shared a house with my PhD supervisor while they were doing their PhDs back in the day!

As we near the end of our campaign, we’re now ringing our donors to thank them for their kind and generous support. It’s probably my accent, but I recently spoke to someone who asked if I was ringing from a call centre in India! He was extremely suspicious that I knew his academic background and proceeded to quiz me about Magdalene and Cambridge until he was convinced that I was genuinely ringing him to catch up and not scam him! He did then share some fantastic memories with me including how he successfully crashed a Downing May Ball! I’ve also received great life and career advice from others who’ve been in very similar situations to me which is extremely helpful considering I know need to decide what to do with my life after leaving the safe bubble that is Magdalene, Cambridge and a PhD student’s life!

The conversations I have had have been so diverse, and yet at the same time, we’re all drawn by our love for Magdalene and how it has shaped us during our time! I for one, will be eternally grateful to the College and its alumni, not just for playing a mammoth role in my time at Cambridge but also as I have personally benefitted from the hardship fund for Postgraduate students.  Despite the long hours of sitting in a room with poor heat retention and reaching unending voicemails, every conversation I do have makes it special.

Starting my evenings at 18:30 with the endless supply coffee and candy that we’re constantly provisioned with is something I will never forget! A very big thank you to our Alumni and Development team for keeping us motivated, Magdalene for all the support over the years and the immense kindness of our alumni without whom many of us would not have been here today!

If I may borrow a quote from a conversation last night, one man said, “you are terribly lucky to be in the best University in the world and a part of the best College there, Magdalene is a fantastic institution and long may it last”!


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