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History - Jennifer Neil

Prior to commencing study at Cambridge in 2005, Jennifer attended St. Helen’s School, Northwood where she took ‘A’ levels in History, Latin, Mathematics and Theatre Studies. She is about to embark on the very long and demanding road of training to be a barrister, commencing the CPE/GDL at City Law School in September 2008.

'As a prospective Cambridge student and with no insider knowledge, I had little understanding just how special St. John’s is; this is something one learns in hindsight of becoming a member. At that time, the copious expanse of grass available for sunbathing, the impressive hall and pretty buildings seemed a sufficient materialistic basis upon which to decide that this was my college of choice. Now though, I am a dedicated member for life.

In some ways, then, I struck lucky at finding such a supportive and attentive history department – a community within a community – the Annual History Society Dinner being of particular note; always a profit to be made in auctioning spare tickets to non-historian bidders. Without mentioning any names (Oxford ), the comparative flexibility and choice provided by the Cambridge history course was certainly a huge attraction for me. Whichever papers you choose over your three years (and this is likely to be unique), the St. John’s history department always source out brilliant supervisors and provide plenty of opportunities to discuss options with fellows and older students.

Leaving St. John’s, I now intend to follow in the footsteps of many great graduate historians in completely giving up the noble venture of studying history to sell my soul as a lawyer, hoping to make a living by doing two of my favourite things: acting and arguing. Nevertheless, I will take with me an invaluable set of skills and abilities developed and honed in my three years of studying History at St. John’s. Private supervisions have given me the confidence to express my opinions concisely and eloquently, even on under-prepared subjects and in the presence of a world expert; I have improved my ability to learn independently, significantly reducing the amount of time spent procrastinating; and most importantly, I have had a whale of a time doing it. Sponsored both by St. John’s and Middle Temple in my future endeavors, I am sad to be leaving but know that my time and the people I have encountered at Cambridge, both students and fellows, have provided me with incredibly sound foundations for the future.'

  - Jennifer Neil, graduated 2008