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Pembroke’s going up

Charlotte Chorley (2012) graduated in June and here she reflects on her three years at the College.

2012 was the year of golden torches, diamond celebrations and yellow jerseys. Tuition fees got higher, the end of the world got nearer and Pembroke College got a little more than it bargained for when, on 30 September, a group of fresh-faced freshers arrived from across the globe.

paddyHow can I do justice to that sparkling, spectacular matriculation group of 2012 who have taught me so much about friendship and respect and ambition? Some may reach for Dante, some for Robbie Williams, but I shall instead reach for the words of our Senior Tutor, Mark Wormald. On our first evening in Pembroke, as we all sat uncomfortably close to the strangeness of one another in the Old Library, he imparted some advice that has stayed with me, and indeed many others, throughout our brief, transitory time at the College. ‘Don’t try to be clever,’ he said. ‘We are all clever here. Try to be kind.’

The matriculation group of 2012 have been a testament to those words, ensuring that Pembroke has remained the positive, inclusive, supportive environment that I was told about when I had my interview on that wintry December all those years ago. The mentality is evident in the success of SolidariTEA – Pembroke’s first feminist and intersectional discussion group. It can also be seen in the support and engagement with the PemWomen@30 project, which commemorated the progress of women in the college since 1984 with several fascinating talks, art installations and events over 2014–15. Our mascot, Paddy Pembroke (thanks to Richard Ollington), also pops up occasionally – with help, of course – to provide well-needed hugs and encouragement.

tumblr_mcrxu0qL7e1rwj1d6o1_1280But, of course, Pembroke is so much more than that. In its 2014 investigative piece, ‘Which Harry Potter character is your college?’, The Tab – that bastion of journalistic excellence – compared Pembroke College to Ron Weasley. ‘Jovially rambunctious, always up for a laugh and has the appearance of being slightly thick, whilst also be inexplicably good at chess and getting firsts. Loves his food,’ the article excellently stated. And it’s true. Pembroke throws the best parties, as the mantelpiece in the JP, and the hazy memories of May Balls and June Events, can testify. Pembroke undoubtedly has the best food; I mean, any college that has double brunch on the weekend is pretty special, and its students are especially talented at eating without cutlery thanks to the ritualistic initiation of the five penny game during Formal. I can’t comment on our chess skills but the success of the 2014 University Challenge team, under the formidable leadership of James Hutt, and the popularity of poetry society PemSoc, demonstrate our intellectual prowess. Similarly, Pembroke College AFC did the college proud year after year, with strong performances in Cuppers. The boat club, after suffering a bout of unlucky bumps in 2012 and 2014, also made an impressive comeback in 2015.

Three years is a transient moment in the history of Pembroke College; it feels like only yesterday that we were all lining up on Library Lawn, ordered around by John Spelzini, for our matriculation photo. But just as we entered the College in a year of celebration, we shall leave it with an even bigger celebration. Pembroke has become home-away-from-home, moulding strange faces into life-long friends. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for the matriculation group of 2012 – Pembroke is most definitely going up.

This article was originally published in the Varsity Graduation Yearbook 2015 and is reproduced here with kind permission of the author and the University’s Development and Alumni Relations Office.

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