This is Laura Thomas-Walters. She is investigating how behavioural research can be better utilised for illegal wildlife trade demand reduction strategies. Her PhD is funded by the Kent Opportunity Fund.
Over four weeks this autumn, a team of dedicated student callers spoke to over 1,000 alumni across the UK. The team raised the record breaking total of just over £90,000 to support postgraduate research, student projects and hardship bursaries, as part of the Kent Opportunity Fund.
We are overwhelmed by the generosity of our alumni, who gave us 259 gifts, ranging from £5 to £2,000.
In 2016, for the first time, we also called our alumni in the United States and spoke to 221 US alumni, based across 30 states; from New York to Albuquerque to Lake Oswego, and raised almost $7,000 from 53 individual gifts. These funds will go towards the UKA-Fulbright Scholarships.
Our alumni community is a huge asset to the University, and many of the student callers commented on the positive and inspiring conversations that they had enjoyed. The alumni also enjoyed hearing the latest news from Kent.
In 2014, a report published by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CASE), entitled Improving Diversity in STEM, demonstrated hard and depressing evidence that women, those with disabilities and those from ethnic-minorities or socially-disadvantaged groups are consistently underrepresented at senior levels in STEM. An unfamiliar HE environment can be stressful, particularly for those who already have an underlying illness/disability.
Engineering and Digital Arts (EDA) applied for a Student Projects Grant to encourage diversity, participation and confidence in minority groups around STEM and to promote and develop a series of activities to enhance the wellbeing of its students.
The plan focused on matters of equality and addressing barriers to access and progression through a series of targeted events, including Engineering a Winning Workforce by Creating an Inclusive Engineering Industry’, an event taking place on 16 November, delivered by Dr Mark McBide-Wright.
The other arm of the project aimed to lessen the stigma surrounding mental health by offering support mechanisms such as a series of events on managing student life, increased deployment of wellbeing information, and promoting simple measures such as a healthy lunchtime walk!
The project has enabled students to develop the knowledge, understanding, skills, capabilities and attributes needed for mental, emotional, social and physical wellbeing now, and in the future and educated staff both in EDA and at Kent as a whole.
In spring 2016, the Canterbury Homeless Outreach Society received funding to run a Help the Homeless Week – events raising awareness and funds for homelessness, including quiz nights, art exhibitions and a sponsored sleep-out! This project encouraged students to take action in the local community and engage with different lifestyles to bring about change.
The funding for this project came from the Student Projects Grant Scheme, and it embodies the values for which his scheme was established; to create opportunities for students at Kent to improve their employability, reach out to the community and increase the quality of their university experience.
President Luke Bridle said “Well done guys HHW is over and we all survived the sub-zero temperatures on the sleep out!”
As part of the 2016 Student Project Grants scheme, the UKC Hogwarts Society and Kent Union applied for funding to support J.K Rowling’s charity, Lumos. Lumos works with underprivileged families abroad and in the UK to help them get back on their feet and build solid foundations for a better future. The goal was to raise money but also make an impact in the community.
Local primary schools with a high percentage of underprivileged children, were targetted and invited to a day at the university to listen to a children’s author and participate in workshops designed to inspire and boost their confidence, and encourage a love of reading.
Three days of children’s authors and workshops took place, and ticketed events with authors to raise money for Lumos. Other Kent Union Societies also got involved and ran music, poetry and other workshops run by to help raise money, and so the whole university involved.
Rebecca Chidgey of St Stephen’s School said “all the children that attended the workshops during World Book Week at the UKC thoroughly enjoyed it and found it all very interesting and informative. I would like to thank you for inviting us, it was a real privilege.”
A Year 4 student from St John’s School commented; “My favourite part was when we went to the drama room.”
Applications for the 2017 Student Project Grants Scheme are open until 16 December 2016! Apply now!