Meet the KEW-NET star mentor!

Freddie Ryder graduated from the University of Kent with a Philosophy degree. We caught up with him recently to find out about what brought him to Kent, what he’s been up to since graduating, and why he volunteers to mentor current students.

Where were you raised?
I was born in the outskirts of London but grew up in the Kentish seaside town of Ramsgate. This is where I attended secondary school before coming to Kent.

What made you decide to study/work at Kent?
What initially attracted me to Kent was the Philosophy department by way of its excellent reputation and favourable balance between Anglo-American and Continental philosophical focuses. Once I visited on an open day I instantly fell in love with the campus itself; its verdant green spaces, stunning views overlooking Canterbury’s charming Cathedral, and, its unmistakably welcoming, tranquil and friendly feel. From that moment, I had decided I would go to Kent.

What are you doing now?
I have enjoyed what can best be described as a varied, unconventional or non-standard career. I have a fairly broad range of interests and try to incorporate all of them into my working life. Essentially, I wear many hats and have several different roles: I am a teacher, a Director of Studies, an examiner, a retail trader, an entrepreneur and a property developer. As a Director of Studies, I manage teams of teachers overseas on short-term intensive English courses as well as the in the UK. I have I have taught all over mainland Europe including in Austria, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Poland, Holland and as far afield as Azerbaijan. I have also worked as an examiner marking GCSE and A-level papers. When I’m not teaching or examining I play the stock market, manage my small property portfolio and I have various entrepreneurial interests including promoting my late grandfather, Cyril Parfitt’s, artwork and marketing it as art (greetings) cards amongst other things,

How have you volunteered for Kent?
Since encountering the Kent Experiences of Work Network (KEW-NET) I have been a volunteer mentor providing guidance, support and just general correspondence with current undergraduate and postgraduate students at the university. This has been through both face to face communication including at KEW-NET networking events as well as online via the web based platform providing both practical as well as moral support.

What made you want to volunteer your time for Kent?
My reasons for volunteering were two-fold. Firstly, I wanted to help people as I have been helped and inspired in my life. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had some inspirational teachers, lecturers and individuals in my life and so I know just how value that can be. Secondly, I had such a great time at Kent I wanted to share my experiences and give something back to an institution that has given me so much.

What advice would you give to a new graduate embarking on a career?
Graduation can seem like a daunting prospect, leaving behind the safety and familiarity of university for the unknown world of work, but it should be thought of as a time of opportunity. This is when graduates can see their hard working paying off, putting their studies into practice and starting to earn some money. That said there are many possible paths and graduates shouldn’t expect to find the right one first time. One size definitely does not fit all here. Graduates should be prepared to try your hand at lots of different things and make the most of any opportunities. If nothings seem to come your way then you need to be proactive and put yourself forward wherever possible.

They met in Marley Court…

It seems like only yesterday when I met my future amazing wife Philippa (nee Swaby K84)  in a Marley Court kitchen but the reality is that it was a long, long time ago way back in the autumn of 1987, the day after “the Great Storm”. Next week we will be celebrating 26 years of marriage.

She was a housemate of a friend of mine and I was living in Thornden Court with four other friends from my second year. Amazingly, two of these, Simon Field (R85) and Ian Dewing (R85) also went on to marry partners they met at Kent. Another friend of mine, Lawrence Gold (K85) also married a Kent graduate, Donna Glasscock (K85).

We have been living in Perth, Australia for the past 13 years and are now Australian citizens. In 2013 we made it back to Kent for a 25 year post graduation reunion with my housemates from Thornden Court. I’ve attached a few photos taken of my family at the time. Henry will be 13 next month and Bronagh 11. Bronagh’s name is partially an acknowledgement of my Irish ancestry but  the idea from the name came from a Bronagh I met during my third year at Kent. I was struck by what an amazingly lovely name she had which stuck in my mind over the years.

During our visit we also went out to the house Philippa rented over the 1985/86 academic year. As she walked up the road towards the house she recognised her original landlord and landlady who were preparing the house to rent to new students that coming academic year. You could not make that up!

Help students through the Work-Study scheme

Kent students need you!

As a former student, you might well remember how challenging it was to get those first steps on the career ladder.  In today’s competitive job market, we’re doing all that we can to give Kent students the skills they need to get ahead – and you might be able to help!

We’re looking for companies who can offer graduate-level internships to students, enhancing their skills and providing you with a hard-working and well supported student.  The scheme is matched funded, with the University contributing £1,000 to match pay from the employer for the placement.

All students taking part are provided with a series of training activities designed to make them work-ready, ensuring that they are able to meet the requirements of the companies employing them. They are mentored throughout the application and interview process, and whilst working.

Internships should comprise around 200 hours of activity and be undertaken at times to be agreed between the employer and student.  Examples of previous roles include research, marketing & social media, events organising, finance and administration positions.

Whether you have a start-up looking for some extra resource, or think this might be the perfect opportunity for your employer, you can find more information about the The Work-Study Scheme from Jen Davey or Hannah Greer in the Careers & Employability Service on 01227 816573 or email

Alumni Awards now open for nominations

The Study UK Alumni Awards recognise the outstanding achievements made by international alumni of UK higher education. Award recipients are leaders in their respective fields: entrepreneurs, professionals or social change makers. All of them will have used their UK education to bring positive change to their communities, industries and countries.

The Study UK Alumni Awards are open to alumni living outside the UK who, in the last 15 years, have either studied in the UK for at least one semester at degree level or above, or been
awarded a full UK degree qualification in their home country.

Applications close on 2 October 2017. Please visit the British Council website for more information and to submit a nomination.

Journeys – A love story….

Peter Marshall (Darwin 81) shares his story with us:

You had the window seat. I had travelled the Edinburgh to London journey so many times that it did not matter where I sat. The same fields, factories, housing estates, whizzing by. Anyway, the aisle seat provided more people-watching opportunities. No mobile phones or electronic gadgetry to distract us in the mid-1970’s.

I sat next to you. You would never know how much this act was one of supreme bravery. Six years in a boys’ school, four years in the merchant navy and now a soldier in an infantry battalion, gave me very few opportunities to hone the skills required to interact with members of the female gender.

You were lovely. You had a quiet assuredness and a completeness about you. You had recently graduated from the University of Kent. Me – sitting next to a university graduate! Well, why not someone or something from Mars or Pluto. It would have had the same effect. You were the first university graduate I had ever met in my life. Terrifying. In the battalion, though, with my single ‘O’ level, I had strangely attained almost professorial status in the eyes of my fellow soldiers in those days. You went to that university – really? Captain *****, from B Company went there too. Maybe you know him? No? Hm…. this university must be big place.

My lack of education represented a huge gap within me. One leg, one eye, same effect. Always something missing. A prisoner of my own ignorance, but I knew that somehow, someway, I must escape, one day.

Courage was plucked and yes you would go out for a drink with me when we both returned to Edinburgh. We went out a few times and later I invited you to the battalion dinner and dance. But something was not right. With me. My fault. My problem. Never yours. At the end of the dance we took a taxi. You to your home – me back to my barracks on the outskirts of Edinburgh. I just exited the taxi and did not say goodbye. Shameful behaviour. You did not deserve that. The yawning educational gap was too much for me. As I say, this was my problem.

Another tour of South West Belfast and later, discharge from the army. Study, work, marriage and fatherhood. A partner who encouraged me to go to university. Education, still a Sisyphean endeavour. Always a struggle. No glittering prizes, but nevertheless, the gradual filling of a void. Goodness knows I have forgotten your name, but not you.

Forty years on, I need to explain, to apologise to you for my stupid behaviour. Would you remember me? Would you forgive me? Should we be in contact, perhaps I would tell you that less than 10 years after we met, Lord Grimond would present me with my law degree from the same university as the one you attended, on a sunny July afternoon in Canterbury Cathedral. I had finally escaped and now I was free.

You gave me the key to that freedom.

Kent launches new alumni association in France

The University is delighted to announce the establishment of a new alumni association in France. The group was launched as part of the annual Paris reception in March and the committee was selected at its inaugural meeting in April.

Alumni groups bring together former students and staff of the University who are located in a specific region or have a shared special interest. They support Kent staff, students and activities in their area such as recruitment, partnership development and fundraising. Groups are run by a committee of alumni volunteers who direct activities and liaise with the University on behalf of their members. The University currently has alumni associations in France, Greece, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Nigeria and the United States.

The University of Kent France Alumni Association’s committee members are:

Juliette King (Politics, Rutherford 2005) – Chair
Jane Verwijs (Law, Eliot 1981) – Secretary
Sophie Bory (Politics, Keynes 2005) – Events Officer
Mathilde Guenegan (Journalism, Medway 2013) – Communications Officer
Théo Thieffry (Politics, Rutherford 2007) – External Outreach Officer
Valérie Gratzer (Politics, Rutherford 1981) – General Officer
Kim Randazzo (SECL, Eliot 1987) – General Officer
Sally Miller (History, Rutherford 1965) – General Officer

Find out more about our alumni groups on the alumni website.

Kent alumni and students volunteer to support homeless

A team of 10 Kent alumni and students volunteered at the Catching Lives Day Centre in Canterbury on Saturday 20 May as part of a new initiative in partnership with Kent Union. Kent Gives Back enables graduates and students to work together for a local community cause and help people and projects that matter to them. It’s also a fun and rewarding way for alumni and students to share stories about their experiences at and after Kent!

Volunteers ran social activities with clients and helped centre staff to clean and organise the facilities.

Alumna Jessica Farnham (Rutherford 2002) said of the experience: “It was great to work with students and fellow alumni and be able to make a very small difference to a fantastic cause by interacting with the service users. I can’t wait to get involved again for future projects”.

Got a project you think Kent Gives Back could help with? Contact Volunteer Management Officer Kasia Senyszyn at

Love at Mungo’s

Halloween in America is a big deal; which is why Sarah Whiting, a post-graduate business student from  San Diego California, made sure she and her friends attended Mungo’s Massive Halloween party. Dressed as a black cat, Sarah accidentally bumped into Jonathan, wearing a football kit and bad ghost makeup, while attempting to enquire about his mate’s Cruella Deville costume. they met briefly and didn’t see each other again for the rest of the night.

Roughly a week later, through random events and fate, Sarah was invited into an unfamiliar flat in her Woolf College block after a lecture and after a few minutes of chatting Jonathan walks in and they meet again this time properly both remembering the other from the brief encounter at Mungo’s. After a night of chatting, the next night is Bonfire night and Sarah has plans to watch the fireworks in London. Anticipating her very late arrival back to the Canterbury bus station on a cold night, Jonathan offers Sarah a ride home and that’s where the romance began. To this day they celebrate their anniversary by going and watching fireworks on the 5th of November.

After conquering the year of postgraduate study together, Jonathan travelled back to California with Sarah to meet her family and to her surprise, he proposed on the plane ride back to London in a spectacular gesture involving the first class lounge and whole flight crew! Now looking to the future together they will celebrate their engagement along with their graduation ceremony this July with friends and family from all over the world. They plan to be married in California next November and return to London to live happily ever after.

Paul: The Forgotten Fourdrinier by Peter Simpson (Rutherford 70)

Peter Simpson graduated in History, Rutherford 1970 and after a lifetime in business has written his first book.

The Forgotten Fourdrinier

Paul is almost forgotten and artistically under-rated but was an accomplished copper engraver who founded the English Fourdrinier dynasty which produced the developers of the Fourdrinier Papermaking machine and the wife of Cardinal Newman.

He was connected to aristocrats and great projects of the age, including the development of Palladian neoclassical architecture, the Foundling’s Hospital and the Savannah colony in Georgia and renowned talents such as the sculptor Rysbrack, painter Hogarth, designer William Kent and composer George Frederick Handel. As well as the great and powerful we meet the eccentrics George Vertue, Horace Walpole, the Reverend Stephen Duck, Batty Langley, courtesan Teresia Constantia Phillips and the curious affair of Mary Toft who convinced half the nation that she had given birth to rabbits.

Further information and images of some of Paul’s work can be found at

The Life and times of Paul Fourdrinier, Huguenot Master Printmaker in London 1720-1758; published in January 2017 and available on Amazon and other online book outlets.

The Little Things by Cécile Beauvillard Burman (Eliot 2009)

They say it’s the little things. All the little decisions you make, each day, like pins marking the trajectory of your life: landmarks that you look back on one day and think, that day changed my life. The coincidences, the people you meet, and the places you get to see, they give substance and texture to life.

I can’t help thinking of how different my life would have been if it wasn’t for the European Union. I was born in the United States to French parents in 1990 and came back to France two years later. I studied throughout high school in what was then called the ‘European section’, which meant we had extra hours of English (grammar and literature), and what is called ‘Anglosaxon’ history in the continent. We read To Kill a Mockingbird, The Crucible, Ten Thousand Splendid Suns, Pride and Prejudice, Jayne Eyre, Wuthering Heights.  We watched Elizabeth, Ken Loach’s The Wind Shaking the Barley, Stephen Daldry’s The Queen, learnt about the Tudors and The Troubles. We even crossed the Channel and spent ten days visiting Portsmouth, Beaulieu, the Isle of White, went to the Globe in London and punting in Canterbury.

Five years later I would emerge on the Kent University Campus to start the British part of my bi-diploma, an exchange between Kent and Sciences Po Lille, having forgotten about this school trip, thinking this place felt familiar. These two years spent at Kent were a revelation on many levels. Never had I been exposed to such glorious diversity before, socially, culturally: the vibrancy of the exchange was positively overwhelming. I learnt so much in those two years, in and out of the classroom. The Societies my friends and I were members of regularly organised parties where you were supposed to bring your national dish – and I scared off many friends bringing snails or a smelly Bleu d’Auvergne my parents had sent from home.

I lived on campus with two British girls who taught me “how to speak Essex”, and a Turkish guy who cooked wonderfully fragrant dishes from his region of the country. On the last week of my first semester, I met an Italian Law student, and after a few weeks of partying we kissed in front of 16 Willows Court, Parkwood, and he became my husband six months ago.

I made friends with Spanish, Greek, Polish, German, Portuguese, Belgian friends, who were all there because when the opportunity to study abroad is so easy, why wouldn’t you? We knew we were lucky to be there, but we also took it for granted, not imagining for a second that our younger siblings or children, if we thought that far ahead, may not be able to enjoy the same freedom.

Because really that’s what it was. Freedom to travel and to move. And a greater exposure to people who come from different areas of the world and expand your horizons gives you just that: more freedom. Education means choice, and freedom, and the European Union gave us just that, and that’s the reason why the very rhetoric of “taking back control” or, more recently, Boris Johnson talking of “liberation” in Munich, is just revolting, and hurt many of us.

Later I moved to London and met more fellow Europeans, English, Irish and Scottish friends who befriended me, hired me, worked with me, and never questioned my legitimacy in studying, working in their country.

I remember looking back at France which I felt was turning its back to centuries of welcoming traditions, thinking, it’s not like that here in the UK, and that’s why I’ll stay.

After Kent we moved to London, that big, smoky, wonderful melting pot filled with people who were so different from me and yet so similar, who were able to take a chance on me and give me a job based on my skills and experience and not on the country I was from and the strength of a visa application.

Nowhere ever felt more like home than the UK did.

I bought the ‘Very British Problems’ book at St Pancras as a welcome present to myself. Since then I’ve improved my small talk skills and have learnt how to queue in a straight line, which for a Frenchwoman is just plain weird. I still talk loudly about politics and religion or relationships, which is often seen as rude, but I tut at people who stand on the left of the escalator, and I do run out of “sorry’s” and “thank you’s” when several consecutive doors are being held for me, so: I’m adapting.

I fell in love with this country, and saw myself live here for a long time, and now I just don’t know. Can we ever go back from the terrifying racism and xenophobia that the referendum campaign unleashed? Can we heal as a country? What makes me a “good immigrant”? What grants me the right to stay? As a French woman married to an Italian living in England, what will happen if we have children here? Which passport should they hold on to, to secure an open future not dictated by renewed borders?

I reflect on my time at Kent with a lot of tenderness, a time where a Britain that was truly Great welcomed me and my European friends with open arms, and was rich with the people it hosted. I also look at it with pride and hope that the current French, Italian, Portuguese, Polish studying there now will make the most of their time there, and form part of a generation which will fight back decades of political and social regression and will be working hard for more open, inclusive world which values exchange and yes, freedom to travel, study abroad, get married, have children and work wherever you want in the world.