American Studies graduate, Edward Smith, tells us about what he’s been up to since leaving Kent.
What are you doing now?
I am currently working as a Specialist Learning Assistant at Merton College helping SEN students with their A-level studies.
What attracted you to your course, and to Kent?
I visited several of the open days and had some great conversations with the American Studies lecturers, that combined with my love of all things America was a main reason for me to put Kent as my number one choice. Kent is a gorgeous campus, situated above a fantastically historical town full of shops and amenities, I wasn’t looking for a huge city and Kent hit the sweet spot for size.
Which aspects of your degree did you enjoy the most, and why?
The seminars and the year abroad. Getting to work with such a talented group of lecturers, John Wills, Ben Marsh, Karen Jones, and Nick Blower, was a real pleasure. Seminars were a time when we just got to sit down and discuss a new topic or explore a new area of Americana that I had never encountered before. It was an eye-opening and singularly wonderful time in my life. The second aspect was the year abroad program that was part of my undergraduate studies. Studying at the University of Maryland and getting to travel all around the east coast was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I also met my partner there, and we have been dating ever since, four and a half years to be precise, so it has a lot of special memories attached to it.
What impressed you most about our academic staff?
The breadth of their academic knowledge was an invaluable resource in my studies, writing essays ranging from environmental issues to photography I could always find someone who could suggest a key book or an interesting author. Incidentally, the enthusiasm for environmentalism within the American Studies academics inspired a major theme for my masters thesis.
Which skills/knowledge did you learn on your course that you use most now in your career?
Managing deadlines and always meeting them. That was a key aspect of both my undergraduate and postgraduate studies and is a skill that I use on a daily basis.
Are you still in touch with any of your fellow students?
Yes, I made an extremely close group of friends while I was at University. We speak and play games together pretty much every day.
Could you describe a typical day in your current role?
A typical day, when not working remotely sees me arriving at College. I double check that my timetable is correct and then attend lessons alongside my SEN students to provide in-class support and communicate regularly with teachers as to how my students are progressing and managing their assignments. I also log all of the progress my students are making and any possible areas for concern on the internal system to make sure that the Learning Support Department can see what they have been working on and if they need any extra support. After that it’s usually a short commute back home, cooking some dinner and relaxing for the rest of the evening.
What are your future plans/aspirations?
I am pondering training to be a teacher; I have had so many positive teachers when I was a student that I would love to pay that back to future students so they can have a positive learning experience. I have also dabbled with the idea of jumping into the gaming industry and pursuing something along the lines of games journalism or actual game development, but those plans are a little looser. With all the spare time I have had during lockdown I have pondered writing my own set of fantasy novels, but who knows if that will take off.
What is your favourite memory of Kent?
This is an extremely hard one. It probably has to be my entire year abroad. It has so many amazing memories wrapped up in it, and that just would not have been possible without Kent. I cannot thank the University enough for offering me the opportunity and pushing me to go for the full year, it was the best year of my life.
What advice would you give to somebody thinking of coming to Kent?
Do it. The teaching is outstanding, Canterbury is a wonderful place to be a student and you will find so many opportunities to have new and amazing experiences. My relationship with the lecturers was the number one reason I stayed to complete my masters, I don’t think I could have found anywhere else in the UK with people who shared and encouraged my passions and led to a master’s thesis looking at Red Dead Redemption 2!
How would you describe your time at Kent in three words?
The right choice.