Dr Rashmi Shankar MA, MSc, DPhil, CPsychol is Consultant Clinical Psychologist at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and was Visiting Tutor for six years at the Oxford Institute of Clinical Psychology Training. She came to St John’s in 1980 for her doctoral research in Experimental Psychology.
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I matriculated in Michaelmas 1980, the second year of women being admitted to St  John’s and an exciting landmark. As an undergraduate at the University of Delhi (India), inspired by volunteering on a psychiatric ward, I had chosen a career in Clinical Psychology. Although I had heard about experiences of College life from my father, Mr. V. Shankar (from his time at St John’s as an Indian Civil Service Officer-Probationer during 1931–33), the vision of his daughter following him was never voiced due to it being considered not relevant. Fortuitously, ‘women at St John’s’ happened nearer my MA final examinations and so began the journey from New Delhi to Oxford for my doctoral research. A particular achievement was the successful outcome of the interview with my DPhil supervisor, Professor Gordon Claridge (Experimental Psychology). 

Being a graduate student in an undergraduate institution had its own challenges but I seemed to rise to these by using my flair for organisation and leadership (partly shaped by being Head Girl at my Delhi school). Both formally as the MCR Domestic Secretary and informally, I was at the forefront of organising themed cuisine guest-night dinners, inviting an array of speakers to the MCR desserts, including the Rt Hon James Callaghan, Rt Hon Roy Jenkins, Hon Norman St John-Stevas and Mr. J. D. Mabbott. Ever committed to influencing change, I pioneered a vegetarian option in the formal hall menu. Interestingly, as ‘scorer’ for the College cricket team, much controversy was created at the suggestion that a woman might attend the team dinner. As a NHS Consultant Clinical Psychologist, providing services in three languages (English, Hindi and Urdu), developing curriculum teaching on cultural competence (Oxford Doctoral Clinical Psychology Course) and training psychologists and psychiatrists remain rewarding.