“Why leaving a bequest to Cambridge matters to me”

“Why leaving a bequest to Cambridge matters to me”

  • Decorative
    Udayan (Udi) Chattopadhyay

Udayan (Udi) Chattopadhyay (Sidney Sussex 1992), explains why you should consider making a bequest and how he remains connected to Cambridge

I get nostalgic when I think of Cambridge. The obvious beauty and history aside, it was my initial experience away from home and very formative because, for the first time, I found myself surrounded by people from all over the world with backgrounds and opinions that were quite different to my own. I probably didn’t appreciate the supervision system quite as much as I should have at the time, but, looking back, it really is what makes a Cambridge education so special. Not only did the system help me develop my critical thinking skills, but I now realise it gave me the tools to figure out how to do things on my own, and to be confident in stating my positions.

In my first job after college, for instance, when having to present to C-suite level executives, I was not as intimidated as I might otherwise have been, because I was lucky enough to have had supervisions at Cambridge with eminent scholars and Nobel Prize winners who were advising large corporations and governments. Having that experience early on definitely gave me a head start.

I grew up in Essex on the outskirts of London. My parents had immigrated to the UK from India in the 1960s, and they instilled in me both the importance of academic merit and of getting involved in the world around you. I initially heard about Cambridge because my Dad had secured a place there for his PhD, but due to financial constraints, he was unable to attend.

Though my bequest to Sidney Sussex is unrestricted, and I trust the College to put it to good use wherever it is most needed, I do hope that it ultimately helps future generations of students. As the UK government is not currently fully covering tuition fees, I do not want students to have to base their decision on whether they should go to University on their finances. Those who want to be able to pursue a top-quality education should be able to do so.

I have always felt strongly about supporting the institutions that have helped me progress, and Cambridge is at the top of that list. Would you take care of your parents financially if you could? Of course. For me, leaving a bequest is much the same. If you can provide for the institution that nourished your growth, I firmly believe that you should. Think of a bequest as changing the world a little bit in a way that is significant to you.

Udayan (Udi) Chattopadhyay

I'm still in touch with people I met on my first day at Sidney, and have made many other friends and connections along the way. Having lived and worked in several countries since Cambridge, I have enjoyed meeting fellow alumni around the world both through official local alumni organisations and through reaching out to local contacts who have often been very helpful and welcoming.

I have lived in New York for the past 20 years, and am one of the founders of Cantab NYC, the alumni-led group in New York which is now one of the largest such Cambridge groups worldwide. It is a wonderful way to remain connected to Cambridge and the global alumni community since New York is a place through which alumni from all stages of life frequently pass through. Given recent global events, we have also been able to play a meaningful role in helping alumni. It’s especially gratifying when I am invited back by the University, either as part of its global initiatives or having the opportunity to visit when travelling in the area.

I encourage others when considering making a bequest, to think about what’s important to them. Also, I would advise alumni when planning a gift to reach out to the University or your College to discuss what may be topical right now. For a lot of us, whatever our personal reasons for giving, Cambridge was instrumental in our development. I think of my bequest as celebrating the transformative experience I had there. There’s no amount too small; every little bit helps.

The 1209 Society

Established by Cambridge in America in 1998, The 1209 Society celebrates the many generous benefactors in the US who recognise the importance of the University of Cambridge and its Colleges through their estate planning. With 293 members and growing, The 1209 Society is also a wonderful way to connect with like-minded Cambridge alumni and friends of Collegiate Cambridge. All it takes to become a lifetime member of The 1209 Society is to notify us of your bequest intentions.

Membership benefits include invitations to special events, a recognition certificate (signed by the Vice-Chancellor of the University and the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Cambridge in America), a bi-annual newsletter and a listing in The 1209 Society Roll of Honor (a bound book listing honorees kept by the University).

Alumni Groups

Alumni Groups are a remarkable network of friendly and engaged alumni sharing a passion and commitment to Cambridge. Alumni are eligible to join any of more than 400 volunteer-led Alumni Groups around the world. You can use a map or search box to find your local Group.


To find out more about the 1209 Society or to make a gift, please contact Maria Alonso or visit cantab.myplannedgift.org

Maria Alonso

Assistant Director, Planned Gifts and Settlement