Esther Agbolade, a second-year PPE student at Oriel College, talks about her involvement with access and outreach activities through her role as President of the Oxford African and Caribbean Society.
What is your role as President of the Oxford African and Caribbean Society (ACS)?
As the President of Oxford African and Caribbean Society, my role is to ensure that all four divisions of the ACS are running smoothly and fulfilling their purposes so that we can engage with, enhance the experiences of and empower our members. These four divisions are Events, Welfare, Sponsorship & Careers, and Access & Outreach. It also involves having important conversations with key stakeholders such as schools, firms and Oxford colleges on how to better engage our demographic and ensure that their respective institutions are truly representative and inclusive.
Why is Access & Outreach important to you?
There are so many misconceptions about Oxford but the most damaging one is the myth that is "Oxford isn't for people like me". Through Access and Outreach initiatives, you don't only show students what life at Oxford is really like but you give them the opportunity to actually picture themselves in this environment and make a fully informed decision when it comes to applying. I am almost certain that I wouldn't have applied to Oxford if it weren't for Access and Outreach initiatives so I know first-hand just how important they are.
What advice would you give to prospective and current Oxford students of African Caribbean descent?
For prospective students, I would give them the same advice that I would give any student. Be sure to do your research. Come to open days and engage with colleges, tutors and current students to get a real feel for the university. If you do decide that you would like to make an application, then believe in yourself and go for it! Oxford ACS offers a load of application support so be sure to get in contact via any of our social media platforms or email: email@example.com.
To current students, my main bit of advice would be not to doubt yourself! You are here because some of the world’s best academics think that you have the ability to be here. Believe in yourself, get stuck in and remember, doubt rarely brings anything good.
What Access & Outreach initiatives have you got planned?
We have our Visions programmes over the Easter, which sees us holding workshops in schools for students from Year 9 to Year 11. In these sessions we aim to upskill young people and provide practical guidance on how they can reach their goals.
We have a shadowing day for Year 12 students, which allows them to shadow a current Oxford undergraduate for half a day. For Year 13 offer holders, we are holding an offer holders day within Oxford so they can get to know one another as well as the ACS, which will lead to continuous support over the examination period. Lastly, in the summer we will be holding our sixth Annual Access Conference. We will welcome over 200 Year 12 students to the British Library for a day of practical tips, networking and demystifying Oxford! To get involved please do email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What made you apply to Oriel College?
I was initially attracted to Oriel because of its pretty buildings, close proximity to the shopping centre and the fact that I found out online that it had one of the highest proportions of en-suite rooms out of all of the colleges. What made me apply to Oriel (and continues to make me grateful for that decision) is the friendliness and support of everyone at the College, staff and students alike.