Alumni Q&A with Catherine Gater
1. When did you volunteer with Jacari?
I volunteered with Jacari from around 1991 to 1994, first as a teacher for a local student and then later as events officer. In this role, I organised get-togethers for students and their volunteer teachers, such as a Christmas party.
2. Who was your pupil?
My student was a 13 year girl who had moved to the UK with her family as a younger child. English was not her first language and as a result she fell slightly behind with maths and science. As an undergraduate in a STEM subject, I helped to cover some of the ground that she had missed. She and her family lived in the Iffley Road area. When I met her, she was fluent in English, Hindi and Urdu and was also relishing learning French at school. She was highly ambitious and hoped to study as a doctor. Sadly, we did not keep in touch but I am confident that she will have achieved her ambitions!
3. Can you tell us the most vivid memory of your time as a Jacari volunteer?
My most vivid memory was travelling to London with my student and her older sister to visit the Science Museum. They had rarely been to London, so it was a very exciting trip for all of us. I also remember how far we walked that day and how inappropriate all our shoes were for covering long distances.
4. What are you doing now?
I am currently a Programme Manager for Equality and Diversity at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, a genomics research lab near Cambridge. I have worked in various roles at the Science Museum, at CERN and at the British Library, mainly in project management but more recently with a stronger focus on diversity and inclusion. I also volunteer as a Governor at a large local secondary school and fundraise for the National Autistic Society.
5. How has being a volunteer with Jacari influenced you later in life?
Volunteering with Jacari made me more aware of equality and diversity issues and this has stuck with me throughout my career. I experienced at first hand racially based abuse towards my student and her family at the time, and I have never forgotten it. I have always felt that there was more I could have done to support her and speak up against it. In my career, I have tried to get involved with diversity programmes as much as possible and this is now the focus of my current role. I was very proud to take part in Jacari as a student and I am delighted that the programme is still going strong today.