This blog post has been reposted from“The Brown Hijabi”with the permission of the author, Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan, Cambridge Alumni.
note: – the term BME used in this article is based on UK terminology to refer to members of non-white British communities (who this article is primarily aimed at): Black and minority ethnic. – the term Oxbridge is a blended word referring to the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
Do it. Don’t be a potential applicant, apply.
Apply with gusto. Apply immediately. Apply with full faith in yourself. Apply despite your teacher’s lack of confidence in you. Apply in spite of it. Apply with your teacher’s unwavering support. Apply with their not-sure-how-to-help shrug of approval.
Apply even if you have never picked up a musical instrument. Apply without knowing a word of Latin. Apply because you love your subject even if you have few resources or outings to museums to show it.
Apply with your variety of histories and blended accents. Apply as a third-generation migrant. Apply as a first-generation migrant. Apply with English as your second language. Apply with it as your birth-right.
Apply even if it makes you the token non-white Oxbridge applicant. Apply if your parents never did. Apply from inner cities, from terraced back-to-backs, from state schools and bad schools and everywhere you can.
Apply even if your name spills off the edge of the form. Apply and let them trip over your name at interview. Apply and turn up to interview in any clothes you want. Apply in your natural hair, your hijab, your weave, your shalwar kameez, your henna, your braids and your trackies. Just APPLY. Overwhelm their admissions pages with your names. Don’t let anyone stop you.
We need you. Oxbridge needs you. It doesn’t need you in the sense that it will necessarily come out in search of you specifically. Oxford and Cambridge might not try their hardest to win you over. They might not consider your specific disadvantages; might not make it out to the schools were you make up more than 50%. They probably won’t beg you or specifically encourage you in the face of it all –acknowledging the face of it all. But they need you, desperately.