With a thriving alumni community across the globe, we discover how one alumna has reconnected with the College to give back and support future generations of students
Here at Royal Holloway, international students are a vital part of the fabric of our community. With almost a third of our students joining us from outside the UK, we are proud to be one of the UK’s most international universities.
A quarter of our on-campus societies and associations have an international focus, contributing to a diverse, creative and hard-working community, which benefits all of our students. We are strengthened by the diversity of our student and staff community and offer 80 scholarships specifically to support students from around the world to choose Royal Holloway, including: the American Foundation for RHBNC International Excellence Scholarship; the Manju Mehotra Scholarship, the Katayoon Behboodi Scholarship, the Dr Pirkko Koppinen Scholarship, and the David Cesarani, Kobler Scholarship.
The Royal Holloway community extends further still, with alumni in 165 countries around the world. This international network presents an opportunity for current students and alumni alike.
Take, for example, STEM education writer and consultant Dr Jane Willoughby, who read Medical Biochemistry at Royal Holloway. Jane graduated in 1982 and relocated to the United States in 1994. Distance has not prevented Jane from reconnecting with the College and supporting future generations of students.
Jane is a board member of the American Foundation for Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, and has signed up to mentor recent Royal Holloway graduates through Royal Holloway Connect, our online mentoring platform, and has established the Willoughby Losner scholarship, available to a new full-time student with Home or International fee status studying for an MA Holocaust Studies degree. Dr Willoughby tells us more:
What made you choose to study at Royal Holloway?
I wanted to get into the medical field and Roy al Holloway was one of only a few universities to offer medical biochemistry at the time. Also, and equally important, I loved the feel and charm of the College. It was smaller and in lovely surroundings, and if I needed to get to London it was just a short train journey.
Did your experiences at Royal Holloway help you later on in your career?
It was a great university because of its size, which led to opportunities to really get to know our tutors and benefit from their experiences and knowledge rather than being one in the masses. Working on a research project with my professor sparked my interest in research and I knew that this is what I wanted to pursue. After graduating from Royal Holloway, I joined the PhD programme at St Bartholomew’s Medical College (part of the University of London) in London. Royal Holloway gave me a strong foundation for this.
What inspired you to join the board of the American Foundation for Royal Holloway and Bedford New College?
I felt the need to give back. I cannot emphasize enough how much the degree I gained at Royal Holloway gave me the strong foundation I needed for research. From my PhD I did a postdoc, again at a hospital in London, before beginning an exciting research career that spanned two decades before I moved into education.
What has your experience on the board been like?
It has been interesting. It has allowed me to reconnect with the College and see how much it has grown over the years and what it has now become – a leading educational institution in the UK – while keeping that personal charm that attracted me to it in the first place. I have also loved meeting College students and hearing their stories. As I am now an educator, this has meant a lot to me.
What would you say to anyone considering becoming a board member of the American Foundation for Royal Holloway and Bedford New College?
Go for it and sign up! It will be a very fulfilling role and will reconnect you with the College. You will also get to meet lots of interesting people, alumni, current students, and academic professionals, and so much more.
Together with your husband, Ingram Losner, you established the Willoughby Losner Scholarship for students studying for an MA Holocaust Studies degree. What inspired you to do that?
I was raised by parents who lived through World War 2. My mother saw the horror of the war through the eyes of a teenager, and my father became a soldier just before the war ended. He was posted to one of the concentration camps just after the survivors were removed to prevent evidence of war crimes from being stolen. My parents raised me to be keenly aware of the horrors of the Holocaust, my father in particular, who had seen the horror and devastation with his own eyes.
Ingram is Jewish and I converted to Judaism more than 20 years ago. We are aware of family members who perished in the death camps. This scholarship honours their memory, and those of our parents. Education is key to preventing history from repeating itself.
What would you say to any other international alumni who might be considering supporting future students of the College by establishing a scholarship?
Education – as I know from personal experience – is life-changing. There is no better way to invest than in the next generation and to know that you played a part in shaping a student’s future!
What does Royal Holloway mean to you?
It provided me with a strong foundation for my career and was where my growth as an adult began both academically and personally. I got involved with many volunteer organisations at the College and some of the best years of my life were spent there as a student. Royal Holloway was where I found my passion for research and where I began to learn who I was. I also met my partner for life there, and we have been married for nearly 40 years.
To find out more about how you can get involved in our international community and support current and future students here at Royal Holloway, please contact our alumni team