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Juan Valencia

What’s the best thing about St Hilda’s?
From the moment I arrived at St Hilda's on an open day I knew that this would be a college like no other. Not only is perfectly located next to the river and past Magdalen Bridge, but what struck me the most was how friendly both the staff and the student body was. As I was getting lunch and looking around, the students came up to me and asked if I had any questions, and my guide placed an emphasis on welfare and well-being and how they are a priority for the College. Having studied here for a few terms, I can confirm there is a strong sense of community which is vital for the rigorous academic scene of Oxford, but also tutors make sure that my mental and physical health are up to standard, and this is why it is my favourite college.

What’s your favourite place in College and why?
It would be wrong to state any other place other than the Dining Hall for me. Perhaps because I haven't been able to go down to the Dining Hall with my friends for a while, I think this is the most special place in St Hilda's, simply because it is not only a place for me to get nice (and affordable!) food, but mainly because it is a place to socialise with other people, and particularly during special occasions like Christmas. The Dining Hall offers a great chance for me to disconnect from my studies, relax and enjoy being around other Hilda's students.

If you could raise money for one thing to help students what would it be?
Grants like the travel or language grants are amazing for really improving the university experience for many students and allowing them to apply their knowledge in the real world. However, if I were to prioritise grants, I believe the Hardship Fund is an essential grant that the College offers. When I found out the College supports students from lower-income families by ensuring they are not deprived of any opportunities, it really convinced me that Oxford is actively breaking the stereotype of being inaccessible financially and encouraged me to apply as I knew I would be surrounded by people of all backgrounds.

Why should alumnae give to St Hilda’s?
Any donation, no matter how small or big, is greatly appreciated by the College as it allows the current students to benefit as much as possible from what the university experience has to offer. Being one of the College's main sources of income, alumnae donations are essential for improving the quality of life at St Hilda's and, without a doubt, making sure that students are able to enjoy their experience at the College as much as other generations.

If you have received a bursary, scholarship or grant, how has this made a difference to you?

I am a Crankstart Scholar and the money that I get from this scholarship has been an essential addition to my time at university. Having moved to the UK in 2013, my parents were always worried that university would be unaffordable but given that the government loans are accessible I was able to apply, but they were still worried that there would be struggles for maintenance costs. When I received an email saying I was eligible to receive this scholarship, it was a great relief as it allows me to be able to focus on my studies and not have to stress about making ends meet, which I am very grateful for.

Can you give an example of an activity or event run by the JCR that you have particularly enjoyed?
During this COVID-19 pandemic, the JCR has tried their best to provide us with as many the opportunities available to other students from past years. Although difficult, the JCR ran many events throughout Freshers' Week where we were able to meet other like-minded students and settle into university. One event that I really enjoyed was the family outing organised so that College families would be able to bond and get to know each other. This was really helpful in breaking the ice with my College parents and has proven to be very useful, as knowing somebody from my course has been a great help when I am struggling with any tutorial work

Juan Valencia