Sophie Frankham-Smith




United States





By Sophie Frankham-Smith

Constantly Inspired and Grateful: Highlights of Michaelmas

And just like that Michaelmas term has come to an end – 13 weeks: 2 weeks of MBA Launch, 7 classes, 2 assessment weeks, 354 new classmates, 72 nationalities, 11 college visits, and so many amazing experiences to kick-off this year.

I wanted to share a couple of personal highlights from this first-term:

Inspiring Leadership

Oxford brings together leaders that are truly changing the world. Getting to hear Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, the creator of the OxfordAstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, speak of her experience and then Secretary Hilary Clinton speak on launching the first Chair of Women’s History was incredible. As part of the Rewley Lecture, hosted by the business school, we were able to hear from Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, Saïd Professor of Vaccinology and creator of the OxfordAstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. She shared the process for how her team was able to create this historic vaccine, the hurdles they faced, and ultimately the need for partners to come together to make this possible. The discoveries her team made will be important and impact generations to come. In October 2020, the Hillary Rodham Clinton Chair of Women’s History was created at Oxford to ensure women’s history is represented on the global stage and to enhance research on intersectional equality and the subject. To celebrate, Secretary Clinton hosted a lecture in the historic Sheldonian Theatre and a large group of MBA students were able to attend. One of the many things I took away from her lecture was how the pandemic has truly intensified the economic and social inequities for women and has unraveled progress to achieve gender equality, particularly in the workforce. She shared that the World Economic Forum now predicts it will take over 135 years to reach gender equality in the economy, an increase of over 100 years (!) from before the pandemic. I left feeling motivated, inspired and so grateful for the opportunity to hear Secretary Clinton speak.

Selfless Classmates

As you can probably tell from other blog posts, the Oxford MBA programme is a busy year. With limitless possibilities and opportunities for how to spend your time, it’s a constant battle to figure out how to balance everything. Yet, I constantly saw and experienced the selflessness of classmates coming together to support one another and giving of their time and talents. This included classmates who gave their limited time to review CV’s and Cover Letters for upcoming job application deadlines and bake delicious treats for a Movember bake sale to raise awareness of men’s health issues and over £2000 for the cause, and rallying around two classmates who were running for a position on the Secretary’s committee of the Oxford Union (and won!). When I was isolating due to COVID-19, I had constant support from classmates with encouraging texts/calls and food deliveries. I may be biased but the people in this class are the best of the best and I’m so grateful for them.

Oxford Magic

It’s hard to describe the magic of this city. The history, the traditions, the beautiful old buildings make it a truly unique place to learn. A day I will never forget is matriculation day when we got to officially become Oxford students and wear our sub-fuscs for the first time. College dinners are a highlight of many weeks as classmates generously invite others for dinner at their own college and I’ve loved getting to know my fellow St. Hugh’s classmates through formal dinners in our own hall (and love any excuse to dress up!). Rowing with my college was one thing I was looking forward to trying when I got to Oxford and it was so much fun – the early, cold mornings not so much. I won’t be winning races anytime soon but getting to learn to row on the historic River Thames and see all of the Oxford boathouses has been surreal.

I know this is only the beginning and I’m grateful to still have Hilary and Trinity terms and Summer Session left as this year is already going by too fast. In this next term, I’m particularly looking forward to kicking off the Global Opportunities and Threats Oxford (GOTO) project as our class looks at Systems Reset through the lenses of Health, Climate, Economic and Social problems. I’m also looking forward to a week-long ski trip in France planned by some classmates for our next school break.

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