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Alumna Myriam shares her thoughts on the importance of ‘giving back’ and sharing what you’ve learnt with others

My name is Myriam Goudet, I am 32 years old and I am currently living in Toulouse, South of France. I finished my PhD in Plant Sciences the 2nd of May last year and gave birth to a very cute little girl on the 27th of May. So I am now working part time in Decathlon - a very popular sports shop and I am looking after my 9 month old baby who is full of energy. My husband starts his own lab in September in Rennes, Brittany so I am looking for a job there in my field this time.

Every Olympic cycle, French Rowing elects a new president for its steering committee. Last year, I was contacted by one of the candidates. He asked me if I wanted to join his team if he was elected. At the time, I was pregnant, in the last stretch of my PhD and was not in touch with French Rowing. I was very unsure about my motivations to get involved with something as big as a national federation. I spoke to a lot of people around me. My coach Rob Baker at CUWBC, my parents and even my PhD supervisor. Everybody encouraged me to do it. Looking back, I think I wanted to do it but I just needed people to help me to do the first step. Then, we all got elected last December. Christian Vandenberghe, the new President, asked me if I wanted to be in charge of what they called “external relations”. This goes from dealing with the Olympic committee or making the link between the equivalent of BUCS and us, to foreign relationships. It is all very exciting. On the top of that, I have got a personal mission which is to create a network of alumni with all the rowers who raced for France. A lot of them now have good positions in small business but also national companies and we want to create a network on which the federation could rely on for anything: sponsors, placements for national rower etc…

I have got several motivations, but I think it is mainly to give back to my sport. My time at Cambridge has been an incredible chapter of my life. Something that sometimes I am not sure I achieved because it seems so unreal. It goes from the Boat Races (obviously), meeting Martina Navratilova, to having lunch between the French Ambassador in the UK and Andrew Marr talking about Brexit, at Lucy or attending seminars in my department with someone who managed to graft monocot with dicot which has never been done before in History (for plant specialist!!!). But to get back to rowing, during my time at Cambridge, I learned so much about my sport that I felt I had to share all this experience and that’s why I decided to get involved.

I enjoyed every moment of my time with CUWBC - even the 5 am alarm, the windy, cold and rainy days in Ely. Dealing with two schedules was something I knew I could handle because I used to do it when I was rowing for France. I knew what I was capable of. For me it was about learning something new, having another perspective on my sport and obviously trying to do the Boat Race. After 6 years in Cambridge I can say that the rowing highlight of my time was winning the Boat Race twice. Behind these victories there is so much more than winning. So many people were involved, trying to turn the race in our favour, volunteers, people who did not make a boat, and there is a great synergy between everybody. It was very powerful. I also had such good times doing May Bumps with Lucy Cavendish. When I was rowing for France I always dreamed of rowing with someone more experienced than me to teach me how to row. It never really happened or very few times. I promised myself to always share what I learned with others and that’s what happened with bumps. I just loved it and that is the reason why these moments remained in my mind as good times.

When I was applying for my Mphil in 2015, I was looking for funding. This is where Lucy Cavendish came in. Lindsey Traub was keen to fund a young woman from Lucy and I have been very lucky that I got this funding. She literally changed my life. I will be grateful for the rest of my life for she did to me. Then I turned my Mphil into a PhD and never left Lucy. And that’s exactly what was and is still the best thing about being part of the Lucy community. You get the chance to meet other women, and now men, who want to help each other.

I have an unusual background. I always felt on another path in France compared to my friends for example and at Lucy I felt it was the place I had to be. Such different people, with different experiences, ambitious and keen to learn about each other. Lindsey Traub said to me: “I am so happy to see that for once I can see how my money can directly help someone”.