Gates Cambridge Scholar Council Presidents' Letter
On behalf of the Gates Cambridge Scholars’ Council, we are delighted to share highlights from the current scholars’ community from 2021 through 2022 in this year’s edition of our annual publication, The Scholar.
Following two years of Covid-19 related-restrictions, our community is now easing into what many have described as a “new normal.” Major changes brought by the recent pandemic, along with significant geopolitical events, have raised awareness that it is up to us to define what this new normal means, not only for ourselves, but for how each of us can best continue to improve the lives of others in our daily practices.
From the Council’s perspective, we have interpreted this transitional year to be one of proactive maintenance. As we reflect on the past two years and look towards the future, we are taking stock of where we are now and setting our course for the next decade to come.
Michaelmas 2021 began with a lively Orientation for Scholars-Elect that was held in Cambridge for the first time. Following Induction Day at Wolfson’s Lee Hall, Scholars-Elect joined alumni Kamiar Mohaddes at King’s College to toast to a fruitful future ahead.
Our social officers have taken this to heart. Over the past year, they have hosted multiple Covid-safe events ranging from a Halloween outing in Cambridge, to trips to London to visit the Tate Galleries, to a day trip to Norwich to enjoy local culture and see newly born grey seal pups.
Special thanks are also due to the Annual Gala coordinators for their herculean efforts in late November to create a similarly Covid-safe event themed around Alice in Wonderland.
Finally, individual Scholars have organized several well-received events throughout the year separate from our main Council programming, including a Diwali celebration and, in March 2022, a charity concert for Ukraine.
We are delighted that the Day of Research will be once again held in person here in Cambridge for the first time in two years. Our current scholars also continue to regularly share their work with our community through events like the immensely popular, multi-day Teach-a-thon and Internal Symposium.
Learning for Purpose events, meanwhile, have sought to offer current Scholars the skills they need to be effective and well-prepared leaders for the challenges ahead. These events ranged from fireside chats on censorship to workshops on AI and bias, as well as learning video production skills.
Given our task this year as a Council in re-strengthening our community amidst the waning restrictions of Covid-19 that have, until recently, dominated our lives, we are fortunate to be able to select which traditions we want to carry forward, as well as focus on building new ones.
Among the latter include fostering greater engagement with Alumni through joint in-person affairs, ensuring wider accessibility through regular hybrid events, and working with the Gates Trust to ensure Scholars continue to be well-supported during these unprecedented and frequently uncertain times.
Similarly, we are especially proud of efforts by current Scholars-in-residence these past few years to bring together and maintain the spirit of community for which the Gates Cambridge Scholarship is known, whether through in-person, hybrid, or virtual events spanning the globe.
Still, transitions like these also mark the end of eras. We would be remiss if we didn’t note the end of Dr. Barry Everett’s term as Provost, for which we thank him for his service on behalf of the Council and wider body of Scholars. These past years have not been easy ones, and we are looking forward to working closely with his successor later this year.
In this vein, we offer thanks to this and past years’ Councils for their time, energy, and service, without which the exceptional programming for our community would not be possible year after year.
We hope you’ll join us in enjoying this year’s edition of The Scholar. And, for our new cohort of 2022 Scholars-Elect, on behalf of the Council, we look forward to welcoming you to the Gates Cambridge Scholars community during your Orientation – which will be hosted for the first time ever in England’s scenic Peak District.
We look forward to seeing you then!
Ariel de Fauconberg  is doing a PhD in Management Studies, in which she is researching climate change mitigation and transition strategies. Ariel serves as the 2022 Gates Cambridge Scholar Council President.
Anwesha Lahiri  is doing a PhD Medical Science at the MRC Epidemiology Unit, exploring the nutritional, lifestyle and metabolic risk factors of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in South Asians. Anwesha serves as the 2022 Gates Cambridge Scholar Council Vice-President.