In Conversation with Olivia Young, President of Pink Week 2022

Interview by Eleanor Antoniou 

We’re all so excited that Cambridge is about to turn pink, as Pink Week 2022 is just around the corner, launching this Saturday with the Pink Week Ball.  The week was first started in 2014 at Clare College by Nina Rauch, in tribute to her late mother.  Since then, it has grown across the university and across the nation.  I spoke with the lovely Olivia, this year’s Pink Week President, to hear more about the meaning behind Pink Week, the importance of checking ourselves and how everyone can get involved this year.  

What does Pink Week mean to you? 

Pink Week has two really important goals, and one often gets a lot more attention than the other.  We talk a lot about raising money for our charities and the effects that fundraising can have, which is super important.  But it’s also about raising awareness for breast cancer, especially for people our age.  Money’s all good but if you can give someone the knowledge that will save their life or the life of a loved one, which is so possible in terms of being vigilant, taking preventative measures and checking yourself, raising a few thousand pounds isn’t really comparable.  Personally, I’ve had family affected by breast cancer, and I know a lot of people in the committee are the same.  It really is something that touches everyone, so being able to make that tiny bit of difference with our age group to be more aware is I think the most important thing.  

What’s it like being the President of Pink Week? 

Obviously it’s a lot to think about! We have over 60 students: there are College Reps, the Ball Committee, and the Main Week Committee. We couldn’t function without the sponsorship team, and the events team, and all the tiny little roles you don’t think of – they’re all important.  It’s challenging for me because I want to be involved in everything but I am only one person! This year everyone is super committed but also super connected to Pink Week as a whole, rather than just to their role – it’s not that hard to people-manage the team because everyone’s amazing! You get so attached to people and feel proud of them when their roles are going well.  It’s a really nice dynamic and such a pleasure to look at what everyone’s doing – seeing people care so much is lovely for me and inspiring in every way.  

Do you think there is still a stigma surrounding talking about breast cancer and the importance of checking yourself? 

I really do think so.  For our age group the focus is so often on the money rather than the awareness because we don’t really see it as an issue for us.  It’s like raising money for someone’s mum or someone’s grandma.  This year, our panel at the Cambridge Union has the theme of women in their twenties, and all the different ways we can be touched by breast cancer, whether it’s experiencing it yourself, supporting a loved one or finding out that you’re susceptible.  The ways that breast cancer can affect young people are so intricate, and we’re blinded to it, thinking it’s not our problem for another 20 years.  But that’s why it takes so many people by surprise if they do unfortunately have to battle breast cancer young and didn’t think they needed to take preventative measures.  Hopefully through our education message and our panel we can really hit home with people our age, so that it’s a right now problem, an always problem.  You can make it so much easier for yourself through checking yourself, staying educated, and staying aware.  

Olivia Young (Image credits: Jacob Higgins)

What part of Pink Week 2022 are you most excited about? 

In terms of events, of course the ball will be so exciting, especially with there not being one last year.  For a lot of people this will be their first Cambridge ball because of Covid! It’s so exciting to see all the hard work that goes behind organising it.  We’re all running off our feet to get it done! Then in the main week we also have the fashion show which is really exciting! I’m also looking forward to it all being over just so we can say we’ve done it! It’s been going on behind the scenes for the past six months and all of a sudden the actual week is here! 

Can you tell me a bit more about the fashion show? Will it be different to the typical runway? 

Definitely! We got over 100 model applications, but what we cared about most was people who wanted to help Pink Week and contribute in some way.  The models will be wearing whatever they’re comfortable with, and applications were very diverse in terms of race and ethnicities, so I’m very optimistic that it will be representative of the entire Cambridge community and will be a bit of fun for us all to have.  

How else can people get involved with Pink Week this year? 

There are about a dozen events in the main week (7th–13th February, all on our term card!) – we have sporty events, the classic club night, the union panel and the fashion show.  There are also college events, like formals and bops.  One of the most important ways of getting involved is also looking at the resources that Pink Week produces and promotes from its charity partners and taking those to heart.  You don’t have to spend money to be involved with Pink Week (I know we’re all poor students!). It’s also about being open and talking with your friends about your concerns and worries.  At the end of the week we have the Future Dreams x Victoria’s Secret bus coming down, which will be a really relaxed and informal way that you can get direct action on any concerns that you have.  Sometimes that is the thing – you might have concerns but you never make the GP appointment, you just get a bit apathetic about the last stage – asking someone directly – and the bus will be a really great opportunity to do that.  

And finally, what do you like doing in Cambridge other than Pink Week? 

I forgot there was anything other than Pink Week! I’m just typical! I do my degree, I’m president of Trinity FemSoc, and I just hang out with my friends, have fun, classic club nights, the absolute usual! All the things we try to include in Pink Week that everyone loves! And I love Cambridge as well, it’s such a beautiful place to be. Sometimes it’s hard to walk around here and not be inspired by the people who have been here before you. It puts your life into perspective and makes you quite hopeful of things in the future! Mainly Pink Week though! 

Find out more and keep up to date with Pink Week on their website and Instagram. Thank you to Olivia and all the Pink Week committee for working so hard! Wishing everyone an amazing and inspiring Pink Week 2022!

Featured artwork by Audrey Lim, GT Resident Artist

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