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Zoë Nengite – Doorstep Saints

Age:

22

Place of birth:

London

Location at time of conferral:

London

Degree:

BSc (Hons) Computer Science (First Class)

What is your favourite memory (academic or social) of St Andrews?

I have too many memories to narrow down a favourite but I really enjoyed adopting academic children in my third year and creating my academic family. It was a really fun process and I truly understood the importance of supporting your academic children. They all came to me for advice both academic and personal. Our Raisin has to be one of my favourite memories! It was very funny and definitely a weekend they won’t forget either.

What will you miss most about your time as a student at St Andrews?

I think I will miss the opportunities that you have being a student in St Andrews. Whether you decide to start your own society, join a music collective or be in a charity fashion show, there are opportunities to be creative and follow your passions outside of academia.

Personally, I learnt how to DJ at St Andrews and played at different shows and club nights. Additionally, I ran a campaign to become part of the Student Representation Council and was elected into the role of SRC Member for Racial Equality. In this position, I had access to senior people in the University to develop ways to increase the ethnic diversity of students in St Andrews. I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to do that in the same way anywhere else. 

Zoe Nengite standing outside her front door

What advice would you give to new students?

Following on from my point on opportunities, St Andrews is a place where you are free to be yourself and really discover things you’re passionate about outside of studies. My biggest advice would be to get involved with a society, project or club that interests you and make a difference with your input.

My second piece of advice would be to remember that you’re not alone and if you’re struggling with anything, reach out to friends, supervisors or Students’ Services. University can be tough academically and socially but there are people who can support you! 

What are your plans after graduation?

My plans after graduation are to start a graduate job as a Forward Deployed Software Engineer at Palantir Technologies in London. Palantir is a small private data company, their technology is used to manage, analyse and secure data. I’m really looking forward to my role because it utilises both my technical and people skills into one position, as I will be building technical solutions for our clients which involves interacting and understanding the clients’ wants and needs.

How do you think the Covid-19 pandemic and global events have shaped the Class of 2020? 

The Class of 2020 surely won’t forget the events of this year and I think it has affected each and every one of us. The pandemic and global lockdown has caused us to graduate into an economy where more people are losing jobs than starting new ones. We all finished university in our homes and celebrated from, in some cases, countries and time zones apart.

Every university student dreams of their graduation and dreads the final goodbyes. In some cases, my ‘final goodbye’ was a quick exchange followed by a ‘see you in a few weeks’. I think this experience is one we won’t forget. However, the silver lining has been that the pandemic has forced the world to slow down. Events in the news were placed under a microscope and thus, when the world saw the video of the murder of George Floyd, everyone stopped. It gave great momentum to a movement that has been ongoing in the US and highlighted the effects of structural and systemic racism across the world.

Relating this back to St Andrews, I think it empowered students to educate themselves on racism and started important discourses on privilege and British history.

Where have you spent your time during lockdown?

I spent my lockdown in London, in my family home. Following the University’s advice, I went home and stayed with my mum, stepdad and two brothers. I found it difficult to work at home but I’m happy I spent lockdown with my family. It meant I had a lot more time to spend with my brothers.

Zoe Nengite with her family

Have you taken any positives from the situation?

Due to the pandemic, the University revoked all library fines as a gesture of good will because students wouldn’t have had the opportunity to return them. I had about £10 worth of fines, so I was very happy about that!

On a serious note though, I think the overwhelmingly positive thing has been the opportunity to slow down and have more time to spend with my family, especially my younger brothers. I am a person who loves to have a busy schedule and I thrive on having a lot of things to do, but the pandemic forced me to really stop. In the future, I will make sure that I always make time for the people close to me and leave some time to switch off and self-reflect. 

Do you plan to come back to celebrate in person in St Andrews in 2021? If so, what are you most looking forward to about it?

Yes, I do plan on coming back to celebrate in 2021. I’m definitely most looking forward to seeing all of my friends again and getting to have a reunion with my graduating cohort. We will celebrate twice as hard and make up for the time we have lost.