Mary Schafer – (Engineering, 3rd Year)


FROM: Carlisle, UK
SCHOOL SUBJECTS: Maths, Further Maths, Chemistry, Physics, AS French and an EPQ

Why Engineering?

The classic answer of loving maths and physics through school applies to me also, so engineering has always been an interest. I’ve always loved finding out how things work and how they can be improved, and seeing how things we learned about in school could be applied to real life. My initial interest was in aeronautical engineering – I wanted to build rockets, be an astronaut, go to space – I went on a summer school at the end of 5th year where I met astronauts, spacecraft engineers and many more interesting people and was completely captivated. I still have a love of the space industry, but having studied such a broad range of engineering disciplines in my time here, my interests have changed a bit and I’ve now chosen to specialise in Civil Engineering, and my latest love is tunnels.

What advice would you give to prospective students?

Just go for it. Applying is one space on a UCAS form out of 5, so you have nothing to lose! The Cambridge experience is absolutely incredible, and I’m so glad I took that leap. You never know what you can achieve unless you try! Don’t worry about not fitting in or not being a ‘Cambridge’ person – in my experience the stereotypes don’t really exist: everyone is normal and great, and just as excited to be here as anyone else.

Any specific interview advice?

Say what you’re thinking, and try to enjoy it – at the end of the day it’s an interesting experience, and you’ll go away having spent some time with some amazing academics in their field, and will definitely have learned something! The interviewers just want to see how you think, and how you can apply what you know in different contexts. Interviews are much like supervisions, so they’re a great chance to experience what learning at Cambridge is really like – and if it would suit you too.

Has Trinity Hall lived up to your expectations?

Yes absolutely! I first decided to apply here when I came in really early on the morning of the open day with my school – we sat on Tit Wall (a major feature of college) in the sunshine and I just thought: yes this is where I want to be. Everything about college has been great – the food, the social side, the staff. It’s a really nice place to be able to spend time and I always miss college a lot in the holidays!

What do you do when you’re not working?

I play for the (very successful) women’s football team in college – division 3 champions last season, as well as volleyball and squash sometimes. I’ve also taken up playing with the university ceilidh band in an attempt to get back into playing the fiddle. Also, I’m the Access Officer on the JCR committee – a role which involves making sure everyone that can apply to Cambridge, does so regardless of background. It’s really fun and rewarding, and a nice distraction from engineering.

What’s your favourite thing about Trinity Hall/Cambridge?

Definitely the people. From the amazing family of engineers, to the general community in college – it’s nice seeing so many friendly faces around all the time and makes for a really positive atmosphere in college.