Celebrating 10 years of Pembroke Access: My story by Dan McAteer

13th June 2019

Welcome to the sixth article in our series of student stories, following the 10th anniversary of the Pembroke Access Programme. In this week’s piece, we’ll be catching up with Dan McAteer, who took part in the Humanities and Social Sciences programme with Pembroke London in 2014. Dan was based in Hackney when he attended the programme and reflects on his impressions of Oxford while studying at school.

“Since I was a kid, I’d been obsessed with History. But at Sixth Form, following the 2008 financial crisis, I’d also developed a real interest in Economics and capitalism as a system. As such, the interdisciplinarity of the Pembroke programme, as well as its association with the Oxford name, made me want to apply. I heard about it through a letter sent home to the school’s Gifted and Talented group.

Tangibly, the programme made Oxford seem more accessible to me. Dr Peter Claus was a real Oxford academic - so were the seminar tutors, like Dr Nicholas Cole. The idea of someone like Dr Claus being interested in me, some teenager at a middling Hackney comprehensive, really humanised Oxford. An underappreciated pillar of the Oxford undergraduate experience is the human connection one develops with one’s tutors. The Access programme gives its participants a proper taste of this.

For me, the highlights were the seminars. Grappling with original sources was a new challenge, but a rewarding one. It was the first time I began to feel ‘educated’, as in, like something more than just an A-level student. The programme did wonders for my academic self-esteem. It also imbued a deep loyalty in me to Pembroke.

Perhaps I would have applied to Oxford without the Access programme. Perhaps not. What is certain is that it gave me a new-found desire to study at Oxford. I began to properly want it. I thrived during the programme, enjoying the challenges of original sources and the breadth of the content we covered. I loved it. And I loved my degree, too.”

Dan graduated in 2018 in History, winning a Proxime Accessit Gibbs Prize in the subject. He is currently the West London Co-Ordinator for Pembroke-Oxnet, as well as coordinating the London Centre for Languages and Cultures, an access partnership between Pembroke, the Open University, and Westminster Academy.

Dan McAteer
Dan McAteer