400 Characters Nominations

400 Characters is a celebration of the people of Pembroke’s first four centuries, in just 400 characters.

Pembroke has played a small part in the lives of many thousands of remarkable individuals who, through small deeds or great feats, have shaped both our College and the world around us.  As we look ahead to the next chapter of the College’s life, we reflect on the unique experiences of those members who have made up this community in times past and today.

We are inviting nominations of individuals you would like to see represented in 400 Characters – alumni, students, academics or staff; past or present; household names or unsung heroes.  Whether celebrated for milestone achievements, for generous service, or as friendly faces or community-builders, we would love to hear about special Pembroke characters known to you.

Nominees will be added to a growing digital gallery which will take shape over the 400 days leading up to the College’s anniversary on 29th June 2024.  We will tell their stories within College and to prospective students, as well as sharing them with alumni and friends.

View the gallery now

All Pembroke members are welcome to make nominations. Profiles should, in just 400 characters, highlight the accomplishments, contributions and values of the nominee. Where they are still living please provide contact details if possible so that we can seek permission to include them in this public project.

Frederic Aranda (1999, Japanese)

While an undergraduate here, Frederic Aranda used the College’s photographic dark room to develop photographs of friends and tutors. He has since built a dynamic and successful photography career, with subjects including Margaret Thatcher, Ian McKellen, Marcus Rashford and Vivienne Westwood. He has received multiple awards and in 2022 had two portraits hung in the National Portrait Gallery.

Chimdinma Okpalauko (2020, Theology and Religion)

Chimdi has shown great leadership and generosity supporting diversity and racial equality in Oxford: she has served as Vice-President of the Oxford African and Caribbean Society, part of the University’s Race and Equality Task Force, a Senior Access and Outreach Ambassador, a member of BlackPembroke, and spoke at a Black History Month event with the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan and the University of Oxford Japan Office.

Samuel Johnson (1728)

‘Dictionary Johnson’, a name earned from his famous A Dictionary of the English Language (1755), was a critic, biographer, essayist, poet and lexicographer, and one of the most significant literary figures of his time. Although a lack of funds had prevented him finishing his degree, he would later describe his time at Pembroke as influential and formative, laying the groundwork for his career.

Dr Elisabeth Kendall (1989, Arabic)

Dr Kendall has been a member of the community as an undergraduate, alumna, College lecturer, and then Senior Research Fellow. In 2022 she became Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge. She has received international recognition for her research into militant jihad groups, delivering hundreds of guest lectures, appearing in media broadcasts worldwide, and working with major international organisations.

Henry Hayes

A striking photograph of Henry Hayes appears at the front of an album of portraits compiled by Pembroke student George Hodgkinson (1856). Unlike the other students and academics featured, Henry was a College servant. He was with Pembroke for nearly 70 years. In this and his other long-serving role as parish clerk at St Aldates, Henry’s dedication to the corner of Oxford he called home is clear.

Dani Coyle (2021, MSt Gender Studies)

In 2022 Dani was awarded a Master’s Prize for her advocacy for the Intersex community in Oxford and beyond and for her role in fostering a welcoming community for all at Pembroke, regardless of sex characteristics or gender. Dani has been profiled in the media for her work in education and advocacy, and produces a podcast to spread awareness and celebrate the successes of the intersex community.

Sir Bernard Miles (1926)

Bernard Miles was a character actor, writer and director. Born to a farm labourer and cook, Bernard’s acting career began age 23 when he joined London’s New Theatre. In 1959, after nine years operating a small playhouse behind his home, he opened the Mermaid Theatre, the first new theatre in the City of London since the 17th century. He was later knighted and made a Life Peer for services to drama.