From Brazil to Cambridge. Cecilia shares her story


About Cecilia

Cecilia Ribordy recently graduated with an MPhil in Anthropocene Studies in 2023. Cecilia was a recipient of the first ever Posse Scholarship here at Cambridge, having completed her undergraduate degree in the United States. The Posse Foundation’s model is ‘rooted in the belief that a small, diverse group of talented students can serve as a catalyst for individual and community development.’ It is this fundamental belief that inspires Cecilia as she embarks on a career in environmental communications and PR. 

Your journey to Cambridge 
Can you tell us about your personal journey to Cambridge and what life for you looked like before you joined the University?

I grew up in a rural region of Brazil known as the Atlantic rainforest before moving to the US aged 16. It was my childhood in Brazil that really inspired me to study Environmental and Latin American Studies at undergraduate level and thanks to the Posse Foundation’s Scholarship programme, I was able to pursue my passion for environmental studies.  

Life at St Edmund’s College 
What motivated you to choose your field of study and how did your time at St Edmund’s College influence this decision?

My undergraduate degree exposed me to a lot of interesting academic ideas and helped me articulate how our personal lives are connected to the wellbeing of the environment. That is what initially led me to think about applying to Cambridge to read for an MPhil in Anthropocene Studies. 

In 2022, an international partnership between the Posse Foundation and the University of Cambridge was established. I was the first ever student awarded a scholarship to attend Cambridge as part of that partnership.  

It has been an amazing experience for all sides of my life. It can be scary going to another country, not knowing anyone, and then being admitted to one of the most prestigious universities in the world. But I found the community at St Edmund’s College to be really supportive. The college is a mature college, filled with international students. There are people from all over the world here. It was fantastic to build a network of people that shared my passion, who were all going through the same thing as me.  

Can you share a memorable experience from your time at St Edmund’s College that had a significant impact on you?

It’s the little moments. Something as simple as going to Edspresso, the College cafe and sitting with people from different age groups who were majoring in different topics. Sometimes you could be having very academic discussions and other times having a very silly, simple conversation about the open mic nights. I play guitar and Brazilian Bossa Nova music so to have access to the music room and open mic nights was fantastic. I got to meet with other Brazilians too and speak Portuguese occasionally which was nice. Those little moments of connection with people were what made it so memorable. 

Were there any professors, mentors, or classmates who particularly inspired or influenced you during your time at St Edmund’s College? If so, how did they impact your personal or professional development?

I feel like everyone did in their own way. My supervisor Liam Saddington was a really good mentor throughout my time at Cambridge. He gave a lot of support and was always very encouraging. 

There was a great cohort of people studying the MPhil in Anthropocene Studies. They were so diverse with different formations and experiences. I was pleasantly surprised by how diverse the space was. I’m really seeing the diversity here first-hand. Programmes like Posse really contribute to that too. 

What values did you learn at Cambridge and how do they continue to play a key role in your work and life today?

The value of humility and respect. You realise how little you know about the world and its people the more you begin to explore. Having the patience and humility to see life outside of what you know. Cambridge gave me the opportunity to explore that.  

Beyond graduation 
How did your experiences at St Edmund’s College prepare you for life beyond graduation? 

On a personal and philosophical level, to be given the space to explore my interests was really important. You have 11 months to give your full attention to what you love, continuing to build your understanding of the world. What it means to be human in this environment, in the state of the world we’re in today, that really is a once in a lifetime experience. Anthropocene Studies can be existential; how can we be better? Being around people interested in that and exploring that is incredibly insightful and life changing. It has given me so much wisdom. On how to approach the world, and these big life problems that don’t really have a concrete answer. 

I hope to use my skills in PR and environmental communications to make a difference. To influence people’s views on the environment and affect change that will help solve global environmental challenges.  

In a nutshell 
In one sentence, what would you say to a potential applicant that would inspire them to come to St Edmund’s? 

Be ready to embrace an exciting, dynamic, diverse community of people. 


Want to study for an MPhil in Anthropocene Studies? Find out more: Department of Geography, Cambridge » MPhil in Anthropocene Studies