Felicia Ng is in her third year studying for a PhD in Haematology at Wolfson. Earlier this year she was invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace, along with others who had made a positive difference in communities or countries in the Commonwealth. Here she recalls her experience:
As an international student from Malaysia, coming to Cambridge to study for a PhD in Haematology was a great privilege for me. I was very fortunate to be awarded a full scholarship by the Cambridge Commonwealth, European and International Trust but I would never have thought that I would be invited to Buckingham Palace to meet Her Majesty the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. On 18 October 2013, I stepped onto the grounds of Buckingham Palace for the very first time to attend the Youth, Education and Commonwealth reception. Looking out at the crowd of tourists outside the gates, I recalled two occasions when I had visited the palace as a tourist. On that day, it felt very surreal to be entering the gates of the Palace as a guest of Her Majesty the Queen.
My connections with the Commonwealth began as a member of the University's Commonwealth Society (http://cucs.soc.srcf.net). In my first few weeks in Cambridge I was introduced to the Society at a joint event, held with the Trust, for new students. The majority of its members are Scholars of the Trust but it also includes a supportive group of alumni, University Fellows and staff, as well as members of the public. I discovered that although the nationalities of the Society’s members are diverse they share a common link, which is the modern Commonwealth. In my first year I served as Treasurer for the Society and was subsequently elected Chair in January 2013. My nomination for the reception at Buckingham Palace came from the Trust and it was a great honour to be invited.
I am immensely grateful to the staff of the Trust for this nomination because it was an experience I will never forget. At the reception, I had the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life who had made a difference in communities or countries in the Commonwealth. I had the pleasure of speaking to several Professors from universities across the Commonwealth who are members of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, and the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting prompted lots of enthusiastic discussion.
The importance of young people as agents of change in the modern Commonwealth were exemplified by the winners of the Commonwealth Youth Awards, an accolade for innovative projects aimed at the development of Commonwealth countries. Also present at the reception was Malala Yousafzai, an inspirational Pakistani campaigner for girl's education. The occasion was not all about networking. Her Majesty and her guests were also entertained with a delightful performance of Vivaldi and Mendelssohn by the Commonwealth Youth Orchestra. The Orchestra also played a piece by resident composer, Paul Carroll. The Children's Choir delivered an excellent harmony of the Commonwealth song and anthem. All in all, the few hours that I had spent at Buckingham Palace had been inspiring and encouraging.
I am now in the 3rd year of my PhD and my experience at Wolfson College and Cambridge University has enriched my life greatly. In the past 2 years, Wolfson has been a wonderful bridge to adapting to Cambridge life because of its inclusive and cordial environment, particularly for international students. Furthermore, it was at a Commonwealth Society event that I was introduced to several Commonwealth connections who are also Wolfson members – Michael O’Sullivan, former Director of the Trust, and Bill Kirkman and Terry Barringer, Committee Members of the Commonwealth Society. I am delighted to be associated with Wolfson and grateful for all the experiences that I have had during my time here.