Congratulations and Welcome to Mary’s

Congratulations and Welcome from the JCR President – Joe Castledine

Dear Fresher,

First of all, a huge congratulations on your results and securing a place at St Mary’s College! We really can’t wait to welcome you into our community come September, where I’m confident that each and every one of you will find your place here and within the wider University.

My name is Joe and I’m your JCR President for this next academic year. Undoubtedly, most of you will be sat there wondering just what a JCR President is? In brief, my job this year is to oversee and look after the undergraduate student body within Mary’s, known as the Junior Common Room. Whether it’s sports clubs, drama, large-scale events, college formals, welfare or music, it all falls under the blanket of the JCR, and it’s my job to oversee all of these aspects of student life.

A bit about me…. I graduated from Durham and Mary’s this summer gone by with a degree in Philosophy, and I can honestly say without question, it has been the best 3 years of my life. This by no means has meant that the past 3 years have been plain sailing. In fact, some of the situations you will find yourselves in during your time here will be some of the toughest, but this shouldn’t be a cause for concern. It’s through the constant support, dedication and opportunities provided by the JCR, that so many people leave Mary’s after 3 or 4 years with a significant lasting impression. So from someone who has reaped the unique benefits of the JCR for the last 3 years, I’ve got the best job in the world this year, and it’s nothing short of a privilege to welcome you.

From the moment you arrive at Mary’s in late September, you will quickly understand why we have a reputation for being the most friendly and welcoming college across Durham. On arrival, our Freshers reps will enthusiastically be on hand to welcome you with open arms (in a socially distanced fashion aha), and along with the welfare team and JCR exec, will provide to you an unrivalled and unique start to university life during your induction week. It’s from this week onwards that it becomes clear that Mary’s is far more than just a physical college. See induction week as a springboard, where you will then go onto meet other year groups, discover the extensive support networks available, and the exceptional social opportunities. However, I can’t express enough, that your university experience is not defined by your freshers week!

It is completely normal to feel overwhelmed by the vast amount of activity in your first week of University. However, I just want to reassure you, do not panic! It’s an impossible task to do everything that will be thrown your way in induction week. The people are new, the place is new, and you are bound to feel slightly on edge. Whether it’s that academic advisor meeting you missed, the college health & safety talk you accidentally slept in for, the next-door neighbour you’ve already forgotten the name of, the favourite sport you forgot to sign up for at the freshers fair. Do not stress! We’ve all been there, and believe it or not, every individual helping you through your first-year journey has been in the same position as you.

However, if there is one piece of advice I’d give you for your first week at Mary’s, I’d just say be yourself. The person you first meet might not become your best friend, you might not have the most comfortable induction week experience, or it might take you longer to find the people you best connect with, but by being yourself, you will find your place. I myself didn’t have the ‘extra,’ ‘sensational’ freshers week that is sold by many people, but over time I found so many people who I love to bits, and I’m now in this position welcoming and helping all of you at the start of your university journey. Trust the process, and things will work out!

That being said, I’ll be living and working in college throughout the year, so please feel free to drop into my office or flat whenever you want or need. Trust me, I can’t wait to get to know you all. I’m always around with a vast array of drinks, snacks and unrivalled chat. My flat and the JCR Office are located on the first floor West Wing of the Fergusson building, directly above the dining hall. I’m working throughout the entire summer leading up to the academic year, so if you want any questions answering at all, please don’t hesitate to contact me via my email. No matter how big or small the question is, I want you all to feel as comfortable as possible on arrival, so no question is too silly.

It might sound extreme, but I can’t express or convey just how much Mary’s, its people, and staff have provided for me, and being able to provide the same opportunities, experiences and support to you for the coming year is the greatest privilege. No matter who you are, where you’re from, what you’re interested in or where your talents lie – you are always welcome at Mary’s. Congratulations again, and enjoy the rest of your summer. I cannot wait to meet you all soon!

Joe Castledine

St Mary’s College JCR President 20/21

Email: st-marys.jcr@durham.ac.uk

Tel: 0191 334 5933