Family celebration at MAs

  • 27 March 2023

Father and son Faisal (Engineering 1971) and Abbas Khan (Classics 2016) collected their MAs on Saturday in a family celebration at Gonville & Caius College.

Faisal, who was eligible to collect his MA 45 years ago, went on to enjoy a successful career in the tech industry.

Faisal says: “After I graduated, I went down to London to do a Master’s in Computer Science. At that time, it seemed ‘MA MSc’ didn’t quite resonate in the tech sector – but now, here I am, ready to put a few more letters after my name.

“I read engineering but had already been bitten by computers, having done a gap year with IBM. Back then, the Engineering Department had an IBM 1100 computer which we programmed with paper tape. I spent most of my time programming and it held me in good stead. I hope Abbas has as much fun in his career as I have had doing the thing I love most, which is tech and software.”

Abbas and his family are very proud of everything Faisal has achieved.

“It really was quite an achievement for him to get into Cambridge and go on to pursue a successful business and entrepreneurial career in tech,” Abbas says.

“Not only was he a person of colour, but he was also a person from relatively modest means growing up.

“My whole family is so proud of him and happy he’s now able to celebrate that success – even if it has been incredibly delayed!”

After graduating with a First in Classics, Abbas, the youngest of Faisal’s three children, now works for the Chief UK Economist at Barclays Bank. “It’s been a very interesting three years, I’m really enjoying it,” he says.

Abbas’ older sister Narjis (Social and Political Sciences 2008) is a Caian lawyer, took her MA in 2015 and now lives in Dubai with her husband and two boys.

two people at a celebratory dinner in formal dress

As a schoolboy, Abbas saw Narjis, pictured above, enjoy life at Caius and was inspired to apply himself. Not only did Faisal, Narjis and Abbas share Caius in common, they all lived in college accommodation on Green Street.

“When Narjis got a place at Caius, it rekindled wonderful memories,” Faisal adds.

“Fortuitously, a few years later, Abbas also got in and I got a third innings at Caius somehow! It’s an amazing feeling: to have gone to Caius myself, and to have two of our children go. It’s the stuff of dreams.

“Abbas’ third year room once belonged to my friend Simon Judd, who was a lawyer. Visiting Abbas would take me back to the great times with Simon and my other lifelong friends Charles Cousins and Malcolm Arthur with rooms on the same staircase.”

“You never forget those bonds and we are all still very much in touch. I’m sure I’ve bored Abbas with all my memories – ‘what the hell Dad, we’re not in 1974 anymore!’”

One of Abbas’ friends lived in Faisal’s old room.

“I used to hang out in that room and could visualise Dad chilling out with his mates in just the same way all those years ago,” Abbas says.

Faisal and Abbas both played for Gonville and Caius Cricket Club and each have fond memories of summers at Barton Road.  Faisal recollects the amazing pitches that used to be prepared by the legendary Bob Prior.

Faisal’s time as an Engineering student was enriched by his love of literature. He remembers the Shakespeare Society with huge fondness.

“Every month we would congregate in someone’s room and do a play between us,” he adds.

“The camaraderie was wonderful.”

Young man in smart clothes holding a tuba

Abbas was part of the Cambridge University Brass Ensemble.

“One of my most vivid memories of Cambridge is lugging around this massive tuba, which luckily had wheels, all around the centre of town,” Abbas says.

“Our quintet used to play at some impressive venues. These are some of my fondest memories of Cambridge.

“On the flip side of that I do remember walking my tuba back from Wolfson College at about 11pm and at no more than two degrees.”

Faisal’s wife of 45 years, Neelofar, and Abbas’ elder brother, Ali, joined the MA ceremony, but Narjis remained in Dubai, constantly being sent pictures by WhatsApp of the day. Those present are pictured below.

Faisal says: “After all these years, the MA celebration with Abbas was an occasion to reflect on a fulfilled life and I really felt quite sentimental and emotional. We all enjoyed the moment!”

Four people outside a building in Cambridge


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