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Zaynab Ahmed

What’s the best thing about St Hilda’s?
It may sound cliche, but the people! I was very conscious, as a first-gen Pakistani Muslim student, that Oxford would be an unwelcoming environment, and that I would not make many friends here. My experience has been quite the opposite. St Hilda’s is full of lovely students from all over the country and world, and I’m so grateful for the community I have become a part of!

What’s your favourite place in College and why?
By far, the Dining Hall! It’s just something about the round tables and the paintings of all our previous female Principals that really embodies the spirit of St Hilda’s for me. I could (and do!) spend hours here!

If you could raise money for one thing to help students what would it be?
Outreach activities! St Hilda’s is unfortunately a lesser well-known college and thus receives fewer direct applicants. I feel having more funds towards outreach and access work could help the College boost its profile within the University whilst also working to ensure bright students from disadvantaged backgrounds are supported in their application to University.

Why should alumnae give to St Hilda’s?
Every little helps, whether that’s a monthly donation or even a one off payment. The money raised by alumnae is a crucial source of income for College, and ensures that student life is improved and St Hilda’s students are well catered for whilst at University, meaning that finances become less of a worry. This is especially important for students from less well-off backgrounds.

If you have received a bursary, scholarship or grant, how has this made a difference to you?
I am a recipient of the Virginia Crowe bursary, which really alleviates the financial pressures of studying in an expensive city such as Oxford. The bursary allows me to participate in all parts of student life without having to worry about money, and I am so grateful to the generous donors who make this possible. I was also recently awarded an Academic Support Grant which I used to purchase an iPad. This has greatly improved my ability to study, in particular allowing me to annotate my readings given libraries are closed and teaching is remote at the moment.

Can you give an example of an activity or event run by the JCR that you have particularly enjoyed?
Pre-Covid we would have termly Family Formals, which took place during Welfare Week. These would be one of the highlights of my term, as it was such a lovely time to dress up and catch up not only with students in your own year group, but your College parents in the year above. During Covid, Nikhil (the men’s welfare officer - I am the women's) and I have hosted virtual family games nights in place of formal and this has been just as enjoyable!


Zaynab Ahmed