More Than Thirty Years On

Dr Susanna Pinkus recalls her years as an undergraduate at Homerton.  ‘As a new term approaches once more, I can hardly believe that 34 years will have passed since that first autumnal drive up to Cambridge.

I clearly remember my parents pulling in through the gates by the old music school as it was then. Amongst the array of belongings in their car sat a set of new English course books which now reside on my bookshelf as rather battered versions of their former selves; a black and white television set – back then, it was a prized possession – and a treasured tape recorder with some compilations recorded from the radio (this is what we did in those days!). I also distinctly recall my mother’s typical parting comment as she and my father headed home, “Don’t worry about doing any work darling, just have a lovely time!”

It is hard to imagine now but communication with loved ones back then was through letter unless we had coins ready to feed one of the few pay phones in the College, and of course, we handwrote our essays as it was long before the advent of the internet. I know, I really am now sounding rather ancient!

Looking back, I had little idea of what to expect from university life. The comprehensive school I had previously attended did not have a sixth form and I had never visited anyone else at university. But I settled in quickly, enveloped by the warmth of the College, and I felt very much at home. In those early days, I remember often feeling over-awed by supervisions and the confidence of other students but intellectually, for the first time in my life, I became completed hooked. Passionate and inspirational lecturers such as Morag Styles, Victor Watson and Jenny Daniels amongst others opened my eyes to the magical worlds of learning and literature.

Importantly too, deep and dearest friendships were made with like-minded souls, and several very special ones like Mandy Maddock and Nicky Wayne, as they were then, endure to this day. Finding kindred spirits at that time and spending hours talking, working, and just generally growing up together made it a very special time indeed. And after a few years teaching, I returned to Cambridge, although this time to Clare College, to discover a field of study and practice which has become a driving passion and mission in my life ever since.

Much has happened since, both personally and professionally and it if fair to say that it has been quite a ride. Perhaps though, now more than ever, there is a sense of wanting to make a continued contribution and that there is a legacy of compassion and understanding to build. I see this drive in many of my friends from Cambridge at that time too. Indeed, in lots of ways, much of who we are now in our fifties and the choices we have made along the way can be traced back to those formative years. I know that I left Homerton completely passionate about teaching and learning, having experienced first-hand how life chances and aspirations can be improved by education, nurture, and care. And this is something that continues to guide and inspire me to this day in my own work with young people, families, and educators around the world’.

Dr Susanna Pinkus Homerton, 1990 is a Specialist in Thinking and Learning Differences

Dr Susannna Pinkus (Homerton, 1990) is a Specialist in Thinking and Learning Differences. For more information about her work, visit or follow her on Instagram @drsusannapinkus where she posts for about education, neurodiversity and wellbeing.