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Bersal Williams

BSc Biochemistry and Cell Biology | 2019

Nationality: Zimbabwe/ Portugal
Current role and location: PhD student in Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge (from October 2019)



Tell us a bit about your path.
I was born and raised in a city in the south of Zimbabwe called Bulawayo, however I am also a Portuguese citizen by descent. Despite living in Zimbabwe for the vast majority of my life I’ve also lived in New Zealand and in England for some time. Despite moving around my family always found its way back to Zimbabwe. In October, I’ll be starting my PhD studies in Clinical Neurosciences at the University of Cambridge. As part of my thesis I will be investigating and developing new methods to treat Tauopathies; a subset of diseases which lead to neurodegeneration, the most famous of which being Alzheimer’s disease.

What attracted you to Jacobs?
In all honesty, I had never heard of Jacobs until the application period when I was applying elsewhere. Upon discovering the university, I was initially impressed by the degree of diversity within the student population, as being part of an international community was important to me since I had traveled so much growing up. The prospect of studying in English in Germany was also extremely attractive as I could study in a language that I was comfortable with and also had the opportunity to explore a region of the world I had never been to previously. After doing more research, I realized that the Biochemistry and Cell Biology major offered by the university was exactly what I had been looking for in terms of content and the early opportunities for practical experience. One of the most important factors was also that Jacobs was so generous with the financial aid package they gave me, making coming here much more affordable.

“Before arriving at Jacobs, I already knew a fair amount about the university but I had no way of knowing how valuable coming here would be for my future. “

Bersal Williams

What was your most memorable (or funniest) moment at Jacobs?
My time at Jacobs has been littered with memorable moments. One of the most special of these was being a member of the C3 band, which participated in Battle of the Bands in my first year. I had done my fair share of performing in high school but never anything to this scale. After successfully auditioning, I thoroughly enjoyed the creative process while we tried to choose our songs and create our choreography. I can still remember the absolute dread I felt standing on stage before the lights came on for our performance, but as soon as they did it disappeared completely. The entire performance went even better than it had during our practice sessions and afterward, we all looked at each other and shared a mutual moment of relief and amazement. It was surreal. To top it all off we later found out that we had won the contest. Definitely one of my fondest memories.

What did Jacobs do for you that you were not expecting?
Before arriving at Jacobs, I already knew a fair amount about the university but I had no way of knowing how valuable coming here would be for my future. I was prepared for my professors to give me great lectures but I was not prepared for how valuable and instrumental they would be in helping me transition to the next stage of my professional life after Jacobs. I had no way of knowing that references from Jacobs professors are so highly regarded and that my professors would be so well connected internationally in their fields. I fully credit Jacobs for preparing me for the next stage of my life and for putting me in a position to actually start it, once I was prepared for it.