A record number of Gates Cambridge Alumni have been visiting universities to spread the word about what it means to be a Gates Cambridge Scholar.
A record number of Gates Cambridge Alumni are visiting universities around the world to spread the word about what it means to be a Gates Cambridge Scholar.
Between the summer and April 2013 29 Alumni will visit 38 universities from the California Institute of Technology to Canterbury University, New Zealand, to talk to students about the Gates Cambridge experience and encourage them to apply.
Several students are visiting a number of different universities. Andrew Robertson , who did a PhD in Genetics and is a Gates Cambridge Trustee, for instance, has visited two higher education institutions and will be visiting two more before April.
The Gates Cambridge Ambassador Programme is a grass-roots outreach programme started by the Alumni Association (GCAA). The aim is to increase the awareness of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship programme, and the incredible opportunities it affords, on a global scale.
Now managed directly by the Gates Cambridge Trust, the programme has been opened up to allow any university around the world to submit to request for a presentation through the main section of the website, under Promotional. Alumni are invited to encourage any universities they think would benefit from a presentation to contact the Trust.
Universities who have already seen the benefits include St John’s College in Maryland which was visited by Peter Brereton .
Jaime Deafenbaugh, Director of Career Services, said: “Peter presented at St. John’s last night, and did a wonderful job! We had 12 students attend, and they really seemed to enjoy learning about the scholarship and Peter’s experience. They also had questions about his background and career, which he was able to address and gave them lots of information to consider beyond what was included in his formal presentation. Thanks so much for connecting us with Peter, and I hope we’ll have the opportunity to continue these kinds of events.”
Rice University, which was visited by Andrew Robinson  who did an MPhil in Economics, said: “The presentation was really valuable, providing students advice on the application process as well as the broader value of studying at Cambridge.”
Other universities including the University of Arizona said they had been contacted by attendees about applying for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, after being inspired by the presentations.
Nabil Wilf , who is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, went back to Georgia over the summer and took the opportunity to visit his old alma mater Georgia Tech and Emory University. He contacted the fellowship office at Georgia Tech. One of the officers helped him with his application to Cambridge and is someone he is in regular contact with. They set up the event and the Gates Cambridge Trust liaised with Emory’s fellowship office.
“I think it is very useful and worthwhile to go back and share the experiences I have had as a Gates Cambridge scholar,” he said. The students who took part asked a range of questions which gave them the inside track on Gates Cambridge. They wanted to know everything from whether as an international student it was better to apply for the US or international round to whether it was better to apply for a masters or PhD.
Justin Bangs  who did an MPhil in Social Environmental Development, visited Vassar University. He said: “We had a great visit at Vassar. I met with 30 students for just over an hour. A range of years (mostly second and third years, a few finalists as well). I’m not sure if you’ll get any applicants this year, but for next year I think it’s likely.”
Professor Robert Lethbridge, Provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust, said: “The Trust is delighted with the progress of the Gates Cambridge Ambassador programme. This is an excellent way for those who have benefitted from this prestigious scholarship to ‘give back’ – it recognises the generosity of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and promotes this incredible opportunity at a global level. We encourage all of our Alumni to get involved. Having been through the Scholar experience at Cambridge and being part of the increasingly influential Gates Cambridge Alumni Network, they are uniquely positioned to give these presentations and inspire future generations to apply for this life-changing scholarship.”
*To take part, contact Kirsty Simons in the Gates Trust Office. Picture credit: jscreationzs and www.freedigitalphotos.net.