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Letter from the Editors


Dear Reader,

Welcome to the 2024 issue of The Scholar.

When we embarked on the creation of this twentieth anniversary issue, we found ourselves beleaguered by a long list of possible themes. “What matters to Gates Scholars? How can we keep this platform accessible to all audiences but nonetheless personal to our community? What are the missing threads?” we kept asking each other during our endless sessions of deliberation. Until, at last, we realised that the answer to all these questions was always there… beneath our feet, whenever we walked to, through, and around Cambridge: bridges.

Bridges—as material objects and conceptual categories—represent cohesion and cooperation. We see the material manifestation of bridges in communities across the world, including this board’s regions of origin, such as the Q’eswachaka string bridge in Peru and the many living root bridges in India’s north-east borderlands. On the other hand, conceptual manifestations of bridges are seen in projects like the International Space Station (ISS) and the COVID-19 vaccines, which would not have been possible without collaborative efforts around the globe.

Our title echoes the famous anthology This Bridge Called My Back (1981), in which women and scholars of colour reflect on the gaps extant in spaces that are deemed ‘inclusive’ within and outside the academy. As such, while bridges foster successful methodologies of partnership, it is also relevant to interrogate ideas that critique connectivity. Sometimes, there is immense labour involved in building solidarity and hope, as Andi Schubert [‘22] discusses in our podcast "The Burden of Being a Bridge." Similarly, we cannot overlook the fact that, historically, collaborations have often been uneven and generated further divisions, as Paulo Savaget [‘15] discusses in "Collaboration, Culture, and Crashes."

In line with the endless possibilities that bridges offer us, we imagined and introduced our theme as a ‘living title’—one which could be adapted and/or amended. We thus encouraged our contributors to navigate pivotal questions: What is the importance of building bridges across different fields, disciplines, cultures, etc.? Is it still possible to forge meaningful connections in such a polarised and alienating world? What does it mean to burn bridges and when is it necessary to do so?

The result is the vibrant collection of pieces you are about to experience, which orbit around four sub-themes: Stories of Our Time, (Mis)Understanding, Sensing Otherwise, and Transformation. Maya Juman [‘22] recounts her life-altering experiences as a contact tracer during the pandemic in a deeply personal essay; Ila Ananya [‘21, ‘22] and Seetha Tan [‘22] give us insight into the unique bridge that is friendship by sharing their private correspondence as they navigate the sensorial thickets of working in the field; Chara Triantafyllidou [‘21] outlines the often-misunderstood intersections of psycholinguistics and pedagogy; turning to creative writing, Myesha Jemison [‘21] presents an Afro-futuristic play where four African American students prepare to cross an actual bridge between the United States and Ghana; similarly, Karen Domínguez Mendoza [‘23] braids hope for Afro-Colombian women in an original collage; in the last section, Lia Kornmehl [‘23] sheds light on the role of chaplains in the decarceration process, Alaa Hajyahiia [‘22] and Seetha Tan [‘22] analyse and theorise protest movements as transformative spaces that contest legal time and language, and Adaiah Hudgins-Lopez [‘21, ‘22] traces ideas of hope and belonging within the Latino communities that reside in Detroit, USA, in proximity to the Ambassador Bridge that connects to Windsor, Canada—to name a few of our contributors. In total, 28 Gates Scholars have contributed to this issue.

In commemoration of the magazine’s twentieth anniversary, this edition houses a podcast with alumni Jennifer Gibson [‘01, ‘02], Hunter Keith [‘01], and Andrew Robertson [‘01], all of whom were involved in the first renditions of what would become The Scholar back in 2004. We also invite you to listen to the rest of our wide selection of podcasts, such as those of Jessica Santiváñez-Pérez [‘13] "On Science and Changing Paths," Tathagat Bhatia [‘21] on "Situated and Submerged Knowings" and Sagnik Dutta [‘16] on "In-Between Languages, Disciplines and Worlds."

We would be remiss in not honouring the six lives lost in the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge on March 26, 2024, which served as a reminder of the fragility of human life when put up against negligent infrastructures. In a similar vein, amid threats to liberal education, we are constantly reminded that the university remains one of the most important bridges to facilitate a respectful and intellectually-stimulating dialogue and make sense out of the seemingly senseless realities that surround us. With this hope, the editorial board opposes any kind of censorship or intimidation in support of all contributions of The Scholar.

We extend our gratitude to all our contributors, the Gates Cambridge Council, the Gates Cambridge Trust and our expansive community of scholars and alumni for their continued support to the magazine over the last two decades.  

It is our sincere hope that you join us in traversing and transforming the many bridges we cross or dismantle (sometimes inadvertently) throughout our lives.

Angello, Jigisha, Arushi, Briseyda and Laurisa
The Scholar 2023-2024 Editorial Board 

Angello Alcázar


Jigisha Bhattacharya

Deputy Editor-in-Chief

Briseyda Barrientos Ariza

Assistant Editor


Arushi Vats

Assistant Editor

Laurisa Sastoque

Media Editor

Editorial Board

The 2023-24 Editorial Team of The Scholar

Photo credits: Leonardo F. Souza McMurtrie.

We invite you to visit our Spotify page for a compilation of our podcasts and creative piece readings.

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