Gates Cambridge Scholars' Council Presidents' Letter
We are pleased to share some of the highlights from the Gates Scholars’ Council programming this year, and we extend our gratitude to the Gates Cambridge Trust, Board of Trustees, and the entire Council for their dedication to creating a vibrant and inclusive community of scholars. This is a testament to the values that underpin the Gates Cambridge scholarship, and it is with great pleasure that we share our successes and plans with the wider community.
This academic year, we hosted our first-ever Peak District Orientation weekend for scholars-elect. From gorge walking, rafting, and caving, to photography hikes and painting workshops, we were able to explore the natural beauty of the Peak District and engage in creative pursuits. In the evening, new scholars engaged in a reflective activity to delve deeper into the values that knit us together as a community: our shared commitment to academic excellence, intellectual curiosity, leadership, and improving the lives of others.
With our community acclimating to the rhythms and challenges of a post-Covid-19 “new normal,” the Council set several priorities this year. Our first priority has been to ensure that all scholars feel welcomed, valued, and supported, regardless of their backgrounds or identities. To this end, our Social, Community, and Equality, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDI) Officers have demonstrated an unflagging dedication to organising a wide range of scholarly and recreational events. One of the biggest events in Michaelmas term was undoubtedly the Gates Gala, drawing over 200 scholars and their loved ones. The Lent term began with a tour led by Uncomfortable Cambridge—focusing on the complex histories of colonialism, race, gender, and class in Cambridge. Further, the EDI and Community Officers have resumed regular movie nights, starting in Lent term with an outing to watch the film Joyland. Term trips this year have included exploring the holiday light show at Audley End, the unique Victorian displays at Leeds Castle, and the mediaeval monastic architecture of Ely Cathedral, followed by a quintessential British afternoon tea! Monthly football scrimmages also continue to be a popular fixture in the Gates Cambridge calendar, and the Council is reinstituting regular game nights and fiction book club socials.
The Gates Cambridge community is also a scholarly space, and the Council is committed to providing scholars with opportunities to develop skills and build academic and professional networks. Our Internal Officer, Alumni Officer, and Learning-for-Purpose Director have been organising a series of events aimed at effective research communication and alumni networking. Internal symposia on “research that improves the lives of others” and “changing climates” saw scholars at different stages of their degrees present work ranging from vaccine design, treatment and prevention strategies for Covid, and antibiotic-resistant infections, to climate informatics and resistance movements against dams in Guatemala. We are delighted at the relaunch of the Gatesway mentorship programme, which connects scholars with alumni to provide mentorship on topics such as making the most of one’s time at Cambridge and post-graduation opportunities. After the inaugural alumni lecture on transitioning from academia to consulting, we are looking forward to fostering greater engagement between scholars and alumni at our Alumni Weekend in June. Following a successful London day-trip with Oxford’s Clarendon scholars last year, we also hope to continue similar academic and social exchanges with other scholarships in the UK.
Another focus this year has been to promote efforts on connecting Gates to the broader world. We hope that the wide diversity of backgrounds, identities, and disciplines within the scholar cohort can be useful in connecting with future applicants—especially those from underrepresented backgrounds who might lack access to first-hand information about the Gates Cambridge scholarship. In this vein, we are excited to be working collaboratively with the Trust on producing outreach videos, as well as tapping into the University’s outreach efforts.
Our final key focus area this year is more policy driven. The Council is developing procedures to set standards of behaviour around—and respond to—interpersonal harm, including harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct, as well as providing EDI, anti-discrimination, and anti-harassment training for both Council, and the entire scholar community. Assessing and advocating for the needs of scholars with regard to the cost-of-living crisis also remains a priority, and we hope to continue liaising with the Trust on this topic.
Heading into Easter term, we look forward to celebrating our final-year scholars at the graduation dinner and hosting the Gates Day of Research. In keeping with our traditions, we will celebrate the summer months with an annual garden party. Finally, we hope that you have been enjoying this excellent edition of The Scholar, featuring the breadth and depth of research, activism, and leadership within Gates Cambridge—and we are excited to host you at our launch party!
We are proud of the efforts that the Council has made over the past several months. The Gates Cambridge scholarship is not just a financial award but also home to a community of kind, resilient, committed, and inspiring people. We are also cognisant of the privileges and responsibilities that come with being part of a community as incredible and international as ours, and the social capital that accrues from celebrating and supporting one another in this multi-generational network of scholars. The Council's commitment to building a diverse, supportive, and inclusive group of scholars, as well as our outreach efforts to potential future scholars, will continue to ensure that Gates Cambridge remains one of the leading intellectual communities in the world.
Anwesha Lahiri, President
Nicholas Goldrosen, Vice-President
Anwesha Lahiri  is doing a PhD in Medical Science at the MRC Epidemiology Unit, exploring the behavioural, metabolic, and genetic risk factors of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in South Asians. Anwesha serves as the 2023 Gates Cambridge Scholars’ Council President.
Nicholas Goldrosen  is doing a PhD in Criminology, studying police misconduct and criminal justice reform. Nicholas serves as the 2023 Gates Cambridge Scholars’ Council Vice-President.