Catherine White

I first came to Teddy Hall back in 2016 following a year working as an intern with the United Nations in Geneva and UNESCO in Paris. I had been working on projects on sexual violence in conflict zones and Gender Equality respectively before beginning work as a consultant. However I knew that if I ever wanted to really progress within the United Nations system and hopefully eventually achieve one of the coveted permanent staff positions, I’d need a Master’s Degree! So I applied for Teddy Hall, loving the look of the ‘3000 women’ emblazoned all over their website. I was delighted to be offered a place to read Women’s Studies and my time at the Hall certainly did not disappoint.

I’ve never been someone who likes to take the easy road, and during my year long Masters programme, I was Teddy Hall’s Women’s Officer as well as Oxford University Student’s Union’s Graduate Women’s Officer. Having always had a love for the creative arts, and having just set up a theatre project as part of my work with the UN, I also (somehow) played the lead role in five Oxford University Dramatic Society plays and filmed three short films. All of this whilst continuing to work 2 days per week for the United Nations and somehow managing to graduate with a First Class Honours High Distinction M.St in Women’s Studies! A particularly proud moment was managing to write my thesis in large part on Beyonce!

This sounds as though I shouldn’t have had much time for any fun, but I really did. Along with my best friends who lived in Norham Gardens with me, we would don our gowns and our high heels and zip off down Parks Road on our bikes to one of Teddy’s sensational formals at least once a week! The Christmas formal is a particularly favourite memory of mine – an entire Hall of slightly inebriated students standing on chairs and singing the Teddy Bear’s Picnic is something I will never forget!

During my time at the Hall, as I got more and more involved in performing arts, I ended up daring to do something quite brave and veering away from the path I thought I was on. I applied to the Oxford School of Drama (alma mater Claire Foy) and with some help from Teddy’s Masterclass Award, I accepted an offer for the 1 year course in Acting. Since graduating in September, I have just finished my first professional job, playing Miss Osborne in Laura Wade’s new play The Watsons at Chichester Festival Theatre. As an English Literature undergraduate, the chance of delving into an unfinished Jane Austen novel that then gets dragged into the modern day with a healthy dose of feminism was way too good to pass up!

I’m now able to combine my passion for gender equality and activism through my work with the United Nations with my love for performing, hopefully working on stories that bring women to light in a different way and make the world a slightly better (or at least more joyful) place.

My main advice for students today is to just try EVERYTHING. Be bold and be fearless. Oxford University and Teddy Hall in particular provide you with opportunities: the comfort of a family who will support you if you need, but also the courage of a lion. You CAN do that thing you thought you never dared to do. And there is an entire community around you who will lift you up and declare that they are proud of you for doing so. My year at the Hall was one of the greatest of my life so far and I will forever hold it dearly in my heart.