University of Oxford Alumni in Mexico, Ottawa and Washington, D.C. are co-organisers of the Three Capitals Lecture Series. Open to the members and friends of all three alumni societies, each chapter hosted a lecture, creating a fascinating and diverse lecture series. 

The Alumni Society of Washington, D.C. hosted the first webinar on August 20th, which was about the history of Oxford college heraldry by Dr. John Tepper Marlin (Trinity, Oxford). 

During the webinar, Dr. Marlin discussed his book, Oxford College Arms: Intriguing Stories Behind Oxford’s Shields, and explained the fascinating heraldic language of Oxford's shields. Colleges define the student experience at Oxford, and Dr. Tepper Marlin’s book and presentation shed light on the meaning behind the college arms, their historical significance, and their connection to the present day.

by Liliana Baltra

During my Oxford days, every time I had friends or relatives visiting me I would take them to the Chapel of Exeter College. I loved the street where it is located. It adds mystery to the Chapel with light peeking through its beautiful glass stained windows. It offers peace and tranquility for meditation and also public services open for general public.

It is a classic example of the Victorian Gothic revival, designed by George Gilbert Scott and consecrated in 1859, which was cleaned and restored in 2007.

The Organ, built in 1994, is a unique example in Britain of the French Romantic style and is one of the finest instruments in Oxford. It can be heard at regular Tuesday Lunchtime Recital Series

The Chapel of Exeter because of its wonderful acoustic is in much demand for musical concerts. Exeter has a wonderful mixed-voice Chapel Choir, conducted by the undergraduate Organ Scholar, which makes tours in Britain and overseas.

Photo by Exeter College

by Liliana Baltra

John Donne belonged to a Roman Catholic family who refused to accept the principles of the Church of England.  At the early age of 11 Donne was a student at Hertford College, then known as Hart Hall. After three years at Oxford he was admitted to the University of Cambridge, where he studied for another three years. Because of his Catholicism he was unable to obtain a degree from either institution, since a requirement for graduates was to take the Oath of Supremacy required any person going into public or church office in England to swear allegiance to the monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Failure to do so was to be treated as treasonable. However, in 1615 he took orders and became a cleric in the Church of England and ended up as Dean of St. Paul’s.

Donne is the principal representative of the metaphysical poets. The term is used to indicate
“the peculiar blend of passion and thought, feeling and ratiocination…” in their poetry.
John Donne ‘s works are noted for their strong, sensual style and include sonnets, love poetry, religious poems, Latin translations, elegies, songs, satires and sermons. His poems
had the vigorous rhythms of the contemporary dramatic poets with the intellectual vitality of Shakespearean metaphor.

His most famous religious poems are The Litany and Holy Sonnets. And from his love poems: The Good-Morrow and A Nocturnal upon Saint Lucy’s Day, Being the Shortest Day.

Photo credit here

by Liliana Baltra

Prof. Rawlins, a distinguished neuroscientist from the University of Oxford, visited Oxford alumni in Mexico in 2017 and 2018. The first time he met us he gave a lecture at the Ambassador's residence on the functioning and mysteries of the brain that neuroscience has unveiled for us.

Prof. Rawlins has spent years researching the  hippocampus, a brain structure embedded deep in the temporal lobe of each cerebral cortex, which is especially vulnerable to damage at early stages of Alzheimer's disease. On that occasion, Prof. Rawlins’ lecture centered on the brain damage associated with the disease.

He later paid us a visit as Pro-Vice Chancellor of Development and External Affairs and we organized a social gathering with drinks for him at Piso 51 at Torre Mayor, so that he could enjoy the wonderful view of the city at twilight from up high. I personally had a chance to talk to him and was delighted to learn that my best English friend’s only son had been his student at Oxford!

Prof. Rawlins is now based in Hong Kong, totally entranced with learning Chinese culture. He is the Master of Morningside College, part of The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). From there he sends us the following message:

‘Loneliness, stress, anxiety and depression help to cause shrinkage in the hippocampus. Happiness and exercise, on the other hand, help keep it plump. The secrets of the brain are beginning to be unravelled little by little, which will keep neuroscientists fascinated for a long time to come.’
Photo: Newsweek
By Liliana Baltra

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, was born in 1832 and died in 1898. Having studied at Christ Church College, Oxford, later he became a mathematics lecturer at Oxford. He was also a minister of the Anglican Church and is very famous for his books Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking- Glass (1872) that we all have probably read.
What is less known is that he had a mentor: George MacDonald.

MacDonald studied at the University of Aberdeen and then moved to London to study at Highbury College.

He was a writer and a pastor of a Congregational Church in Arundel and then in Manchester. He used to write fairy tales for his children. Lewis Carroll who was also a well- known photographer took some pictures of MacDonald’s children. Knowing that he was a writer of stories for children, Carroll, who was a bit shy, decided to show him his Alice’s Adventures. MacDonald read the story to his own children who were fascinated with Alice and all the wonderful characters in the story. As a result of that, MacDonald encouraged him to publish it.

George MacDonald also inspired other authors of fantastic stories like C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien.

Our 'Featured Alumni' section aims to showcase Oxford Alumni based in Mexico. By doing so, we promote a more dynamic alumni community, socially and professionally.

College: St. Peters College

Matriculation Year: 2018

Degree: MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation, and Management

Favorite restaurant in Oxford: This is a hard one! I guess it depended on the mood I was in. For example, if I wanted something casual and cozy, I would go to the White Rabbit. Their pizza is great, that's why it's always crowded! If I was in the mood of something spicy then I would go to Old Tom (St Aldates Street) or Sasi Thai at the Covered Market. Their Thai food is really good and not too pricey! If I wanted something fresh and flavourful I would go to Branca or Alpha Bar at the Covered Market. I lived in the Jericho area, where my favorite pubs are: The Victoria and The Jericho Tavern. It can't go wrong with pub food and a pint of beer!

Favourite college: Also a hard one. Each college has its own vibe and personality. I enjoyed every College I had the opportunity to visit, but if I would have to choose one I would go with the one I know the most and was part of: St. Peters. Their parties are by far the best ones!

What was your favorite elective and why?
I only had two electives, and if I would go immediately with the subject I'm most passionate about, I would say Marine Ecosystems, their Conservation, and Management, but actually, I think my favorite one was the one that challenged me the most, Environmental Governance. One of the reasons why I chose Oxford and the School of Geography and the Environment was that I wanted to learn how to incorporate social sciences into biodiversity conservation and management, and the Environmental Governance elective was exactly about that. I felt totally out of my comfort zone but I still enjoyed it and had the chance to look at the natural world through a different lens. I'm very grateful for that.

What surprised you the most about the "Oxford Experience"?
What surprised me the most was the access we had as students to a vast amount of information and knowledge. We could go to any conference we wanted and hear the latest research by top scientists in the world. I also felt proud of being part of a University that persisted and thrived in uncertain and difficult situations. Oxford is one of the oldest Universities in the world and its buildings reflect that. Every time I went to the Taylorian, the Radcliffe Camera or any of the old buildings, I felt like I was part of something bigger, and that's something you don't experience very often.

How do you plan to use your degree to make the world a better place? I plan to continue working and learning from others who are as passionate about conservation as I am. I have to say, working in this field is not easy, but it is extremely rewarding. One of my end goals is to make my home country (Mexico) a place where biodiversity and conservation are prioritized, and where people, irrespective of their backgrounds, value nature as much as I do.

What advice would you give to prospective Oxford students?

I have five tips to make the most out of the "Oxford Experience":

  1. Enjoy and try not to stress too much! Studying at Oxford means feeling constantly under pressure and rushed. Remember that you are lucky to be sitting where you are and that you need to make the most of your time there. My time at Oxford went by so fast that I wish I had made the time to enjoy it more. 
  2. Don't be shy! I consider myself a little bit of an introvert, so it was hard for me to meet new people all the time. There were times I felt exhausted just by speaking. If English is not your native language, the first weeks are hard, but don't worry, it gets better. If you are like me, try to open yourself to meeting new people and make the most out of the social life in Oxford.
  3. Make good friends. Being at Oxford means being away from home, family, and friends, but that doesn't mean you can't make new, long-lasting friends. Make sure to have a good support system while you're in Oxford, friends will make everything much sweeter and smoother! 
  4. Build your network. Oxford is a great place to build your professional network. Get involved in all the activities that might help you meet people who work in your field. Most importantly, keep the momentum going! Don't stop building your network once you finish your program. Keep in touch with your contacts and let them know you are still around.
  5. Last but not least, work hard. It might sound like an obvious thing to do, but sometimes we take this for granted. We are very privileged to be able to study and do what we love, even more so to study at Oxford. Unfortunately, this is not the case for many people. One of the ways we can give something in return is to work hard.