Why Leaving a Bequest to Cambridge Matters to Me
Udayan Chattopadhyay (Sidney Sussex College 1992)
I have a nostalgic feeling when I think of Cambridge. It was my initial experience away from home and very formative because, for the first time, I found myself in a place full of people from all over the world with views and opinions that were quite different to my own. I probably didn't appreciate the supervision system quite as much as I should have at the time, but, looking back, it really is what makes a Cambridge education so special. Not only did the system help me develop my critical thinking skills, but I now realize it gave me the tools and confidence to figure out how to do things on my own. In my first job after college, for instance, when having to present to C-suite level executives, I was not as intimidated as I should have been because I had had supervisions at Cambridge with eminent scholars and Nobel Prize winners. Having that experience early on definitely gave me a head start.
I grew up in Essex on the outskirts of London. My parents had immigrated to the UK from India in the 1960s, and they soon instilled in me the importance of academic merit. I initially heard about Cambridge because my Dad had secured a place there for his PhD, but, due to financial constraints, was unable to attend. Though my bequest to Sidney is unrestricted, and I trust the College to put it to good use wherever it is most needed, I do hope that it ultimately helps future generations of students. As the UK government is not currently fully covering tuition fees, I do not want students to have to base their decision on whether they should go to University on their finances. Those who want to be able to pursue a top quality education should be able to do so.
I have always felt strongly about supporting the institutions that have helped me progress, and Cambridge is at the top of that list. Would you take care of your parents financially if you could? Of course. For me, leaving a bequest is much the same. If you can provide for the institution that nourished your growth, I firmly believe that you should. Think of a bequest as changing the world a little bit in a way that is significant to you.
I'm still in touch with people I met on my first day at Sidney, and have made many other friends and connections along the way, especially as one of the founders of Cantab NYC, the alumni-led group in New York. It is a wonderful way to remain connected to Cambridge.
I encourage others, when considering making a bequest, to think about what's important to them. For a lot of us, whatever our personal reasons for giving, Cambridge was instrumental in our development. I think of my bequest as celebrating the transformative experience I had there. There's no amount too small; every little bit helps.