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Profile: Katherine Knight

Woman smiling wearing red knit hat in picturesque village

Katherine Knight (2016, Classics)

Katherine studied Classics at Univ before heading to , Cambridge where she was a Library Graduate Trainee for two years. Since September 2022, she has been working as Assistant Librarian at Hertford College. 

Why did you choose to study Classics at Univ?
Most Classicists you speak to will have read Percy Jackson at an impressionable age, but for me it was Enid Blyton’s Tales from Long Ago! It’s such a cliché, but Classics really is an amazing subject, which encompasses every area of the humanities – literature, language, history, philosophy, drama. I was known for being a bit of an evangelist for it on outreach events, but it’s true – so many people have a passing interest in the subject but never know where to start, and I would encourage anyone thinking of applying for the humanities to see if its right for them, even if you’ve never studied it at school.

How do you think you have progressed from walking through Univ’s doors for the first time to graduation?
I’ve definitely grown more resilient and determined, which I suppose twice-weekly tutorials will do to you! (I always said a one-on-one tutorial felt like being in the interview stages of The Apprentice, which I promise I mean as a positive.) I started at Univ almost not knowing how it was possible to come up with an original opinion in Classics – it’s been around for a couple thousand years! – and left having far too many opinions on Pyrrhonian skepticism. Also, I’ve cut off about 50% of my hair.

Why did you choose to become a librarian? How have you found the process so far?
I was initially just looking for a fixed-term job ready for graduation when I came across library traineeships – a year-long position, offered at various libraries, which introduces you to the sector. I ended up hopping across to Cambridge to do my traineeship at Newnham College, before returning to Oxford last September as Hertford’s Assistant Librarian! It’s been a fascinating and rewarding job – I like to say it has all the fun of talking to and helping customers in a shop without having to sell anything! – and I’ve even been able to make use of my Latin when looking at our rare book collections!

Univ students with Stephen Hawking Do you have any favourite moments from your time at Univ?
Striding through Main Quad in my first term, determined to get a much-postponed haircut, and running into my Physicist friends outside Hall who heard Stephen Hawking had come to visit college. I did meet Stephen Hawking that day; I did not get the haircut.

Have you faced any challenges in your life that you are happy to share here? If so, how did you cope with them?
As for everyone, COVID came out of nowhere in March 2020 and pretty much blindsided us – not the ideal circumstance in which to do exams that make up 100% of your degree! Once the examination format was sorted, things became a lot easier to handle – and while I didn’t end up taking my Finals in Exam Schools, it was nice to have a cup of tea on the go while I was writing about Ovid in my bedroom.

Woman smiling next to rare booksAny tips for settling into life in Oxford?
Life at Oxford is so much more than just work, and while I’d always say to ‘do’ Oxford at your own pace, try and make some time to enjoy the parts of the city you wouldn’t come across day to day – whether that’s trying to visit other colleges, walking to the furthest edges of the ring road, or trying every coffee shop in a two-mile radius. It’s a unique place, so you might as well make the most of it!

Describe Univ in three words.
Definitely oldest college!

Published: 13 March 2023

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