Profile: Shermar Pryce
Shermar is JCR President and is in his second year studying PPE at Univ. In this profile, he discusses his plans as JCR President, his proudest achievement and the advice he would give to freshers and prospective students.
Why did you choose to study PPE? Why did you choose Univ?
I’ve always had an immense fascination with how the world we live in works and why things are the way they are. This fascination initially manifested in a keen interest in the natural sciences (i.e., Physics, Chemistry, and Biology); however, over time my interest shifted from the study of the natural world to instead looking at the world via a more anthropological lens. I found that Oxford’s PPE degree had significant overlap with the areas of my curiosity, while still allowing me to explore more unfamiliar territory in terms of academic literature.
While searching for colleges to apply to, I noticed that Univ had a particularly large yearly cohort of people studying PPE. I figured it would be advantageous to be at least partly surrounded by those who shared similar interests in an academic sense. I had also always wanted to go to an older Oxford college, one that featured both antiquated architecture and preserved many of the archaic traditions that the university is known for. As Oxford’s oldest college, Univ had both in abundance. Finally, I greatly admired the Univ’s rich political history, having strong historical and contemporary connections with many world leaders and political thinkers.
How do you think you have changed since you walked through Univ’s doors for the first time?
I have certainly become a much more confident person, both socially and academically. Initially, I found meeting and talking to new people fairly difficult, the previous year of lockdown and social isolation definitely didn’t help with this. Over time, mostly through conscious and determined effort, I have managed to overcome much of this apprehensiveness.
Similarly, the level of academic rigour, particularly due to the tutorial system, has made me far more assured in my ability to formulate and defend academic arguments, regardless of if I believe them or not.
What is your favourite part of your course?
So far, I have most enjoyed the “politics” component of philosophy, politics, and economics. Politics has always been at the centre of my interest while studying PPE here at Oxford, though that isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed studying philosophy and economics!
During my first year, I really enjoyed the political theory module. It always has been greatly stimulating to think about how many of the ideas of long-dead political theorists and philosophers still persist in modern political discourse.
What is your proudest achievement?
Aside from being elected the President of the undergraduate body of Univ, I’d say my proudest achievement is the sheer number of wonderful and interesting people I have met and befriended during my first year at Oxford.
I came to the university essentially knowing no one, bar a small handful of people I had met during Open Days, and access schemes. Over the last year, I have met and talked to an incredibly large number of people, from around the world, many of whom I’d consider good friends. This collection of people spans the entire university, from first-year undergraduates to retired fellows. I find the network of people I have associated with in such a short amount of time absolutely remarkable.
Why did you run for JCR President? What do you hope to achieve as JCR President?
I decided to run for JCR President because I’ve always had many ideas about how student life at Univ could be improved. I am also passionate about advocating for the interests and desires of my peers at the college. I figured that becoming JCR President was the most effective way that I would be able to bring my ideas to fruition and to make sure the wants and needs of my fellow undergraduates are made clear to members of the college’s administration.
The top priority on my agenda is to at least maintain, and hopefully increase, the trajectory of Univ’s return to pre-pandemic normality. This will take many forms, such as continued discussions with the College about the provision of services that were adversely affected due to the pandemic and the proliferation of in-person events in and around the college. I will be working very closely with the relevant members of the JCR committee, student body, and college staff to make sure of this. Welcome Week this year was a huge success on this front!
Do you have any advice for prospective students and/or freshers?
For prospective students: Please make it so the degree you apply for is one you have genuine passion and interest for. I know of many people who apply for degrees at Oxford solely based on employment prospects, prestige, admission statistics, and/or the preferences of their parents. Lacking a real academic fascination with the content of your potential degree makes producing a successful application to Oxford extraordinarily difficult. Tutors will be able to gauge your interest throughout the application process, especially at the interview stage. Even if you do manage to get in, getting through three or four years of an Oxford degree you don’t enjoy is a herculean task.
For freshers: Stay on top of your work! This may sound obvious, but many new students at Oxford don’t realise how short an eight-week term truly is. It only takes one late assignment before you’re trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of late-night essay/problem sheet crises. Try to make a start on your work well before your deadlines, as you never know what other unexpected commitments may arise.
How have you found the experience of studying at Oxford?
I’ve found my experience studying at Oxford challenging but enriching. It’s challenging in the sense that it is a completely new environment, with a plethora of new obstacles, both academic and social, to overcome. However, it’s been greatly enriching as I truly feel I’ve greatly developed as both a person and a scholar during my time here.
Describe Univ in three words.
Univ illuminatio mea
Published: 17 October 2022