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SPS - Salima Virji

Salima Virji attended James Allen's Girls' School in Dulwich, South London.

'I studied Politics, Latin and German at A level and found it difficult to decide what to read at university. In the end, I applied to St John's to read Classics, and came up in 2000. After gaining a 2:1 in Part I Classics, I decided to switch to a two-year Part II in SPS. The diverse range and different combinations of subjects was particularly interesting - in my first week I found myself in a lecture about Thucydides, the Cuban missile crisis and the Kosovo conflict. In my final year, I took papers in Revolutions, the politics of the European Union, and American politics, and was consistently inspired by lecturers and supervisors who taught me new ways of thinking, arguing and writing. After four years at Cambridge I finally grasped the point of writing an essay - it's not (necessarily) about how much you've read - it's about how good your argument is.

St John's is a wonderful place and it was a privilege to be part of life there for four years. It's a friendly, big college with a lot going on. I was very involved with the college Music Society, and sung in several choirs and musicals in the University. The accommodation is second to none, and the College's facilities are envied throughout the University.

After graduation, I went to work in an executive search firm in London, then found myself back in Cambridge working in educational fundraising. I’m now Head of Development at Magdalen College School in Oxford, and I’m also teaching A level Politics part-time. My degree course was an excellent foundation for my career, mainly because it taught me how to think and how to write. A one-to-one supervision with a world expert is invaluable preparation for many of life’s terrifying situations – the ability to think on your feet, to listen actively and to argue persuasively are all skills you can’t help but develop whilst studying Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge.'

- Salima Virji, graduated 2004