Éireann Attridge is amused as her MA Graduation approaches by the sense of nostalgic return to College framing the event.
“It’s funny to think of my contemporaries seeing the new dining hall for the first time and spotting the changes around the site,” she laughs. “I feel like I’ve never really left!”
While completing a BA in Education with English at Homerton, Éireann became increasingly involved in inclusion and access, an interest which began to inform her degree.
“I was originally looking at the psychology of education, but as I became more involved in inclusion, that became my academic focus too.”
Having benefited herself from an access programme for students in London overseen by King’s College London, Éireann has become ever more passionate about widening participation since completing her BA. She initially stayed on in Cambridge as Access and Funding Officer for the University Students’ Union, before undertaking a Masters in Higher Education Policy at Oxford, and returning to Cambridge as Widening Participation Officer in the central Admissions Office.
For the past two years she has combined a full-time role as Programme Manager at The Elephant Group, working to increase the participation of students from under-represented schools and backgrounds in higher education, with her work as College Discrimination and Harassment Contact and Tutor at Homerton.
“It’s a very flexible role, which I took on in the summer of 2020. I gave a speech at the Education dinner about Inclusion and later wrote an article about the role of universities during the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, and afterwards Georgie (Horrell, Admissions Tutor and Director of Studies in Education) asked me whether I’d like to be a point of contact for students experiencing discrimination.”
In September, Éireann will be making a further return to Cambridge to begin a PhD at Wolfson, examining the higher education outcomes of students from under-represented backgrounds.
“It has got to a point where I do wonder if I’m ever going to leave!” she says.