Profile: Ffion Price
The third in our series of profiles celebrating women at Univ features Ffion Price, JCR Access and Equal Opportunities Rep.
Have you always been set on studying History and Politics, or did you take a while to decide? What helped you come to a decision?
I had always been firmly set on doing Politics and History at A-level, though I cannot say that I had been set on studying both of them at university. At various points during my A-levels, I had really thought about applying to do Law or Geography. What really settled the matter for me was sitting down with my HE+ tutor and weighing up the pros and cons of each. My choice ultimately came down to the question of “Will I enjoy doing this degree?”. As we discussed, it became clear that History and Politics was the only course that answered a definitive “Yes”.
Why did you choose Oxford? What made you choose Univ?
When I was 15, I visited Oxford on a school trip for a Pathways Day being held by Oxford Pathways. I remember being utterly enamoured by the buildings and the architecture at Keble where the event was held) and being intrigued by the academic tasters and talks. I came away at the end of the day with an overwhelming sense of ambition – I had decided that aspiring to Oxford in the future was something I wanted to do. At the time it was very much an aspiration, little did I know that two years later I would be visiting Oxford again for an Open Day and crossing Univ’s threshold for the first time. Looking back it was very much my experience at Univ on the Open Day that made me choose to come here. I’d gotten lost on the way to Examination Schools, accidentally stumbled into Univ and had the most amazing time. I had 15 minutes between walking through Univ’s doors and needing to be at Examination Schools for a talk, so in my haste I asked if I could have a ‘very quick’ tour of college – one of the helpers was more than happy to oblige. So, after a very speedy tour of college, that still found time to include the infamous “Hobbit Door”, I was walking back out onto High Street to head to Schools with Univ being the only college in mind.
Was there a particular area of your subject that you were interested in before you applied? How did you explore that area further?
I grew up in Swansea, which is an area with an incredibly rich industrial history. Naturally, it was one of the first things that drew me to having an interest in history, and was something that I became incredibly interested in. In terms of exploring the subject further, I was very keen to extend my exploration beyond written literature, so I involved myself in a number of projects that were linked to Swansea’s industrial past. Two of my favourites were being part of a youth forum for The National Waterfront Museum in Swansea (which specialises in Industrial History) and participating in a socio-historical production, with an amateur dramatics group, called “Copperopolis” which looked at the lives of people in Swansea during the Industrial Revolution.
How do you think you have changed since walking through Univ’s doors as a fresher?
I think the biggest change has been on a personal level. Growing up, I had never been particularly shy or introverted, and I’d always had high hopes and aspirations, but I do remember questioning how far I could go, particularly as a young, council-estate raised, LGBT identifying woman. To a certain extent, I had always worried if there was a place for someone like me at the places I wanted to go. The biggest change that coming to Univ has made was helping to allay those worries. Irrespective of my concerns, I quickly learned that there was a place here for me and, in fact, others like me were here too. At Univ I am unapologetically myself, with the knowledge that there is a place for me here, and wherever I should chose to go in the future.
What else do you do apart from your subject in Oxford?
Studying aside, most of my other involvement is sporting. Two of the biggest pastimes for myself are rugby and rowing. I do both at a college level – rowing for UCBC during the week and playing rugby for Univ WRFC on the weekends. Though sporting commitments keep me busy, I wouldn’t have it any other way. One of the greatest things about being here at Oxford is that while we work hard, we most definitely play hard too. Being part of college sport for me is an incredible outlet and a great way to keep fit and be social.
Why did you decide to run for Access and Equal Opportunities Rep?
I think a large part of the impetus to run as Access and Equal Opportunities Officer came from my personal experiences of getting to Oxford. As I have mentioned, I grew up on a council estate in Swansea, South Wales. I didn’t come from a background conducive to getting people into A-Levels, let alone higher education – least of all Oxbridge. Access efforts made here at Oxford were crucial in paving the way for me to end up here. I was fortunate enough to attend a Pathways Day here when I was 15 – in that single day I’d gone from not particularly considering progression to higher education to deciding that I wanted to go to university, and Oxford was the place I would aim for. My benefit from Access efforts however did not end there. When I came to Univ in September 2017, I did so on the pilot year of the Opportunity Programme. If it were not for the constant endeavours of those engaged in access here at Oxford I may well not have ended up here. Being the Access and Equalities Officer here at Univ is a way to help strengthen the foundations of the very things that brought myself and so many others like me to Oxford.
How are you finding it?
I’m thoroughly enjoying my time as Rep! Getting to see the work done in college on our Access front, and help to contribute in strengthening it has been a joy. One of the things I enjoy most about the role is the level of cross-representative and intra-college communication. In this role, I work with a number of different people, ranging from Nelli, our Access Officer, to our individual Liberation Representatives, on different projects and events. At the moment I’m working as part of a steering-committee for 40 Years of Women at Univ, as well as organising an Equalities Week for Trinity term, both of which involve so many different aspects of the College. The work I get to do as part of this role is nothing short of amazing.
Has anything surprised you about Univ/Oxford?
It sounds very cliché, but I think what surprised me the most about Oxford was realising just how much you can squash in to a short eight week term! Term time is very hectic and obviously the workload is intense but, in amongst that, I also do so many other things. I still manage to fit in extra-curricular activities like rugby and rowing, spending time with friends, going out to see plays and all the rest of it. The terms are only short, but I’ve realised there is so much you can do with them, which came as a pleasant surprise.
Have you faced any challenges in your time at Univ? How did you overcome them?
One of the biggest difficulties I faced initially when coming to Univ was having the confidence in myself to ask questions of my tutors about my work. Like all people, I found myself stumped by the academic work on occasion and at first I was worried about approaching my tutors for guidance. However by overcoming that, I made use of the tutorial set-up to explain that I’d had difficulty with the week’s material and that I’d appreciate some advice – it turns out they were more than happy to help! Looking back it was one of the best things I could have done, I no longer hesitate to ask questions or to seek out guidance where I need it.
How do you feel about the celebration of 40 years of women at Univ? How far do we have left to go?
On a wider note there is still so much more to be done. The liberation of women and the progress made for equal rights is not a job that is ever truly done. It is something that requires constant effort in order to be maintained – there is little room for complacency. Even today in 2019, there are still gaping inequalities faced by women here in the UK and all across the world – and without the perpetual efforts made to address them, such inequalities will persist.
I’m proud that here at Univ we are seeking to actively celebrate the rich history and the roles of women in the College. I am pleased that College is a space for people to come together to celebrate that, and that our College are proud to see that happen.I think the celebration of 40 years of women at Univ is truly incredible. I feel very privileged to be a part of helping to facilitate some of the incredible work being done. Although the history of women here at Univ is short, I have no doubt that the future of it is long-lasting – the celebration of 40 years of women at Univ embraces not only the rich history of women who came before us, but also of those yet to come.
Women at Univ 2019. Celebrating 40 years of achievement by women students, academics and staff, and recovering the history of women in the College from 1249 to the present day.
Published: 27 March 2019