Current student Hannah Saint (U19) shares her story as part of the College’s celebration of 50 years of women at Churchill. Hannah is a fourth-year student reading Modern Languages (French and Spanish). In her second year she was elected JCR Vice-President and founded a Cambridge society: Cambridge Women Who Lead.

Hannah’s story

It was my teachers at school who really encouraged me to apply to Cambridge. Although I really enjoyed History and English, there was no better feeling than speaking in another language. A degree in Modern Languages has allowed me to continue to study both the literature and history of Francophone and Hispanic countries. I originally applied to a different college but Churchill chose me and I’m so pleased they did!

In my fourth week of my first year I put myself forward for JCR Vice President. I ran with another first year, Abel, who has become a great friend. We became President and Vice President which was an incredible opportunity. At the end of the year in June, I was elected President and served for a year. It was the most memorable, challenging and rewarding experience at Cambridge. I was elected only days before COVID-19 was announced and all students were sent home so my time as President was not at all what I was expecting. I really enjoyed creating ‘Virtual Churchill’ over Easter Term so everyone could keep in touch with each other online, running the College’s Freshers’ Week and organising open mic nights, formals and bringing the infamous puffer jackets to Churchill College!

Having played lacrosse from the age of 9 up until I was 12, I was so lucky to continue playing at Churchill and in my first year I joined the Churchill College Mixed Lacrosse Team. When I picked up a lacrosse stick, it felt like no time had passed and it quickly became a highlight of my week. In my second year, I was Captain of the Churchill Team and began playing with the university team. On my year abroad last year, lacrosse was something I really missed and I have been so excited to get back into the sport upon my return. There is nothing like sport at Churchill, whether that be mixed lacrosse, netball, tennis, football, rugby…you name the sport…there is probably a team! College spirit runs high at Churchill with students coming to support others on the pitches. My room window looks over the field and I really enjoy watching the College’s incredibly popular ultimate frisbee team! For those who don’t fancy joining a college sport, the College has a dance society, art society, eco society and there are weekly yoga sessions!

In my second year, I also founded a Cambridge society: Cambridge Women Who Lead. We have organised many events and this term have an event with BNP Paribas, to encourage more women to consider a career in finance. Churchill College has been incredibly supportive of my society and the Master even spoke at an event which was truly inspiring.

The accommodation and the space at Churchill College are amazing. I love being able to live with all my friends and having all the College amenities minutes away, whether that be the libraries, Hall for lunch, or a relaxing walk around Churchill on the perimeter path! The libraries are amazing – there is so much space to work and individual desks or big tables so depending on what I have to do, I can choose a space that works for me. I also love the big, comfy arm-chairs in the Bevin Library that look over the College. At Churchill, the librarian Annie is so friendly and always goes above and beyond to help you find resources. I would always encourage people to apply to Churchill. The College spirit and sense of community at Churchill is so apparent. The fact that accommodation is available on-site for your entire undergraduate degree means that you are constantly meeting new people and making new friends. Even this year, on coming back to Churchill, I have made lots of new friends in the lacrosse team and in my staircase.

The best piece of advice I was given when I first came to Churchill was to try and start conversations with anyone! This advice really helped me make so many different friends, whether it was someone in the kitchen, a student I ended up sitting next to in Hall or just approaching a new group of people at the Freshers’ event and start chatting. This advice became even more useful on my Year Abroad when I made friends at my university in Paris – and once you’ve done introductions in French, chatting in English becomes infinitely easier! The Collegiate system at Cambridge really helps you make friends because you’ll have course friends, College friends, staircase friends, friends from sports teams/societies.

Next steps

After having spent the summer as an intern at BNP Paribas, I am excited to return after my fourth year to join as an analyst on their graduate programme. Looking further ahead, I hope I will still be speaking French and Spanish, continuing to travel a lot and really enjoying my career in finance. I hope to be continuing to encourage more women to think about a career in finance. I hope, or rather, I know I’ll still be touch with my friends from College. Having spent one year away from Churchill, I can honestly say the friends I have made at Churchill are friends for life. In five, ten, twenty, maybe even fifty years’ time, I’m sure we’ll all continue to sit around the table at dinner, roaring with laughter, and reminiscing about our wonderful days at Churchill!