Boyd: Blessed by the summer opportunity

Published 2:32 pm Tuesday, August 15, 2017


“Lucky”: I was talking to a friend the other day who told me that he was going to change his definition of luck. He said that his new definition was me, Jeremy Boyd; a 19-year-old who received a full fellowship to the University of Cambridge to study for two terms (four weeks) at Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education International Summer Schools Programme. I think my friend was right in a way, but I would change his word choice to the word “blessed”. I feel blessed as the 2017 recipient of the W. Robert and Judith Brown International Study Fellowship, offered by the Andalusia High School Scholarship Foundation.

During my four weeks at the University of Cambridge, I studied courses in math and history. The history classes included subjects from Roman and Chinese empires to castles and medieval technology to WWII/Cold War history. While these courses are not required for my engineering degree, I am a history fanatic.My math class on codes, ciphers, and cryptography, was the only class really related to my degree. At my home university, The University of Alabama in Huntsville, I am working on a double degree in electrical and computer engineering with interests in cyber security. I not only thoroughly enjoyed the cyber security and history related topics at Cambridge, but also the professors who presented them. They were some of the best lecturers that I have ever had.

The Cambridge Summer School also included morning and evening plenary lectures related to the theme: “Connections and Conflicts”. These lectures explored subjects from the Enigma Machine to Ancient Democracies to Climate History of Antarctica and to Luther and the Reformation. The plenary lecturers included cutting-edge researchers, distinguished academic professors and probably my favorite, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. Through these lectures, I gained a better understanding on many different fields and the unique perspective of the lecturers. While I did not always agree with everything, the lectures said, it was a great experience to hear their different perspectives.

My Cambridge classmates were from all over the world. This year’s summer students represented over 60 different countries and ranged in ages from 18 to 80. I met people from India, Uruguay, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, Netherlands, Germany, Thailand, China, Poland, Canada, Lebanon, and Australia. From the U.S., I met people from Oregon, New York, Colorado, California, Georgia, New Mexico, Washington, and the District of Columbia. During the four weeks, I made many friends and learned to appreciate cultural differences.

Studying at Cambridge also allowed me to travel a little bit around England. During my first weekend, I participated in a University-organized excursion to Stratford-upon-Avon and Hampton Court Palace in Richmond.

In Stratford, I visited William Shakespeare’s birthplace and attended a performance of his play, Julius Caesar, in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. Hampton Court is a royal palace owned by Henry VIII in the 1500s. While visiting Hampton Court, I was able to watch a jousting tournament. During my second weekend, I caught a train to London. On my first day in London, I did all the touristy things: Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, St. Martin in the Fields, and the National Gallery. The next day Carson Posey, the other Andalusian studying at Cambridge, Daniel, a friend from Australia, and I went to Bletchley Park to see the Enigma and Bombe machines, and better understand how British codebreakers used these machines to shorten the Second World War. In my last weekend in England, I again went on a University planned excursion back to London and was able to explore St. Paul’s Cathedral and see an amazing performance of Shakespeare’s play, The Twelfth Night, in the Globe Theatre.

The trip was not all studying and traveling. We also had time for some fun and games. I attempted to teach Carson how to play pool on a British Snooker table, but I am not sure how successful I was in teaching her when I turned around and found her standing on the table to make a shot. On another night, a group of eighteen students rented a room to attempt some Karaoke singing. We also went to see a movie and saw another Shakespeare play on the grounds of St. John’s College in Cambridge.

All-in-all, my experience studying at the University of Cambridge was excellent. I was able to learn so much, and make many memories that will last a lifetime. I was blessed by the Andalusia High School Foundation for providing me this opportunity. I hope the Foundation’s International Study Program continues, and that I will be able to contribute to sending future Andalusia High School graduates to experience what I have experienced.