This year’s TEDxCambridgeUniversity annual conference took place on the 20 and 21 March, with a host of inspirational speakers presenting on the theme of Untangling Networks. The conference, taking place online for the first time, contained contributions from two brilliant Hughesians: Nirosha Balakumar (2020, Education), and Dr Sheen Gurrib (2016, Materials Science). You can read more about their talks and watch them, below.
Mind the gap: navigating higher education as a racialized student
Nirosha Balakumar (2020, Education)
In this presentation, current student Nirosha talks candidly about race, her journey to Cambridge, and the barriers faced by marginalised students at Cambridge and across higher education
Nirosha said of her talk:
“When I was selected as a speaker for TEDxCambridgeUniversity, I knew that this was an opportunity to not just tell my story but to amplify the voices that have too often been silenced. I knew that this was a chance to use my space of privilege to speak out and to challenge the systems at hand but most importantly to help others to feel both seen and heard. This talk for me was about reclaiming space and reinforcing that my existence is my resistance.
“This one is for every racialised student that has consistently had to fight in a system that was never designed for them. For every racialised student that has lived in between the lines of being both hyper-visble and invisible.
“For every racialized student that is building from scratch with no generational wealth or academic legacy to follow. This one is for our ancestors that could have never imagined we could be in the spaces that we occupy today but are the reason we have the strength and resiliency to do so.”
“This one is for myself – a first-generation, low-income student from Galloway – Scarborough and a proud daughter of immigrants of Indo-Trinidadian and Tamil Sri Lankan descent.”
Nirosha is currently undertaking an MPhil in Education, Globalisation and International Development. Her current research surrounds the decolonization of education and understanding the experiences of immigrant youth in Eurocentric educational spaces.
Relearning the ABCs of girls’ education
Dr Sheen Gurrib (2016, Materials Science)
According to UNESCO, women make up more than two-thirds of the world’s 800 million illiterate people and 130 million girls worldwide are out of school. In this talk, Hughes alumna, Sheen, explores the obstacles faced by women and girls in education and how it may be possible to bridge the gender gap in education once and for all.
Sheen is originally from Mauritius and is the first woman from the island to have attended both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. She is the co-founder of Project Access for Refugees, an Ambassador for Women in STEM and hosts the women empowerment podcast Dream, Girl. She is also the co-founder of ReShape Co., a not-for profit consulting company and a World Economic Forum Global Shaper.