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One year on: Katy Wilson (2017)

Posted on Jul 20

2 min read

Career Events & News

Almost a year after graduation from St John’s, we catch up with Katy, who graduated from St John’s in 2020 with a BA in Geography. She is currently studying for a Master’s in Climate and Society at Columbia University, New York.

Katy at Columbia University

What was the situation in New York when you moved there last year?

When I moved to NYC in September 2020, virus levels were down and some amenities were beginning to open. However, it was not the New York I remembered. The city was scarred from the earlier effects of COVID-19; people wore masks EVERYWHERE, indoor dining was closed, Broadway was silent and the stadiums were empty. Fortunately, good weather enabled me to do lots of things outside, and travel restrictions meant I could see the city in an almost tourist-free environment. At times I almost felt like a New Yorker…

As for university, I briefly had in-person classes, but these soon moved online as cases rose in the late autumn. Although doing my Master’s almost entirely online has been challenging, I do not regret the decision. If you’d told me two years ago, or even last summer, that I would meet some of my closest friends over Zoom I would never have believed you. But the small course size coupled with lots of teamwork has facilitated building close bonds. And as restrictions eased, I met many of my classmates in-person.

Overall, despite the pandemic, moving to NYC was the best decision: I’ve been able to connect with people across the wider university, operate in the same time zone, experience NYC and build close connections with my course mates.

What are your next plans?

After graduation in August I’m going to take advantage of post-academic training to work at a climate risk firm in New York for a year. This will be a fantastic opportunity to build connections and apply the skills learned from both Columbia and Cambridge, and I hope it will also give me the opportunity to experience New York without restrictions. Beyond that, I intend to apply for a PhD focused on climate risk management, either in the UK or the USA.

How will you celebrate with your friends from St John’s once you can all be together again?

Having two degrees but not being able to celebrate either with a graduation ceremony has been tough. While I’ve faced challenges moving to a new country, my friends from St John’s have gone through equally tough experiences. For those who continued to their Master’s, studying remotely without the support network of fellow Johnians was hard, and for others finding a job or entering the workplace has been equally challenging. I’m most looking forward to having an in-person celebration with everyone to commemorate our time at St John’s and reflect on how we all transitioned to a new phase of life in the middle of a global pandemic. I think we all deserve a reward for that!