Here we hear from one of the earlier scholars, the lovely Delicia Reynolds Hand. Below she discusses just what she did while at St. John’s, highlighting some of her numerous adventures.
I’m no Pip and yet, in the spring of 1999, when I learned I would spend the next two years of my life at St. John’s, in Cambridge, I felt very much as if the DJ scholarship was my own “Great Expectations” moment. All I could think about, while traveling over to the U.K. for the first time, were the people whose efforts had brought me to that juncture.
My grandfather – who organized his community to build the first road for transport in the small farming village in Jamaica, West Indies where I was born – who never had formal education but who had always urged me to pursue it; to my parents who gave up their own comforts and stability to move our family to the U.S. so that I could have better prospects. I was determined to the make the best of this great opportunity.
Somewhere between that first of many journeys from Heathrow to the porter’s lodge at St. John’s I relaxed and reconciled myself to enjoy the adventure that was the next two years in Cambridge. The experience far exceeded my own expectations. Some highlights:
I made life long friends from all over the world.
Whether forged over lengthy debates in the Samuel Butler Room, sky-diving in Ely to raise funds for charity during RAG week, or picnics along the backs, some of my closest friends are from my time in Cambridge. Over the years, I’ve attended numerous weddings and christenings, in different parts of the globe, of old classmates and housemates from Johns and the larger University.
I traveled as far and as wide as my feet and funds could take me.
Wanderlust doesn’t quite capture it but during my time in Cambridge, I traveled to 14 countries, including three continents, and I had a blast. Favorite travel story – camping on the shores of Gibraltar with course-mates from Australia, Israel, Romania and Singapore before taking the ferry over to Morocco! I strongly encourage new DJ scholars to use any and every opportunity to travel in and out of the U.K.
I gave as much as I received.
While at Johns I was involved in many College and Uni activities. Though I joined one of the many Cambridge Orchestras to keep up my music; I shared my own music traditions and started the Uni’s first Gospel Choir. I joined the University Student Union and became the first Anti-racism officer and worked with students all over the U.K to develop resources at Unis in the U.K. for working with students of color. As much as I had to learn, I realized that as a part of the student body, I also had a great deal to contribute.
After graduating in 2001, I returned to the U.S. to attend law school, obtained a J.D. and began my legal career as a Skadden Fellow in 2004 in Washington, D.C. My professional life since has been in politics and public service. Presently, I am Staff Director, at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the consumer protection agency formed in response to the late 2000 recession and financial crisis. Prior to joining the CFPB, I was Legislative Director at the National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) where I testified before Congress and led the organization’s legislative and regulatory consumer protection agenda. I’ve previously served as General Counsel at the Center for Community Change and Senior Counsel to John Sarbanes, U.S. House of Representatives where I worked on Health Care Reform legislation, Higher Education Reform and Consumer Financial protection.
I returned from Cambridge in 2001 with a more developed intellectual curiosity and tenaciousness that I attribute to my time at St. Johns. It has since never left and life continues to be a wonderful adventure.