What are you doing now? Can you describe your career trajectory since graduation?
Post-Kent I completed a Master’s degree in Early Modern History (1500-1800), specialising in theatre. My dissertation focused on the representations of female heroes in theatre between 1590-1640.
Whilst studying I volunteered as LAMDA tutor for seven- to fourteen-year-olds. I am now going into my first full time role as Lead Education Officer for Bromley Historic Collections and Museum. It will be a lot of fun to continue to work with young people and introduce them to local and wider history, helping them feel connected to the past.
What attracted you to your course, and to Kent?
The opportunity to do a very unique joint honours course: History and Drama. Nowhere else I looked at allowed for that. Moreover, for them to compliment each other so well. Both sides of the course were very encouraging about interdisciplinary research which set me on the path for my MA.
Which aspects of your degree did you enjoy the most?
Although Covid changed it a lot, I really enjoyed the Creative Project at the end of the Drama course. It’s a real chance to showcase all the skills you’ve built up over the years and create a strong performance.
I also enjoyed any opportunities with history to go and view collections and archives. As part of the Conflict in 17th Century Britain module we handled material from Kent’s own archive, and in third year we took a trip to the Cathedral archives to view copies of the King James Bible and work by John Knox. I think object handling is so important to not only bring history to life, but actually understand how historians handle and use material that is not digitized for research. It’s a really important skill.
What impressed you most about our academic staff?
Their knowledge and dedication. Kent has staff who are genuinely interested in your research and helping you undertake that to the best of your ability. They were always happy to chat and I always felt I could go to them for help when I was stuck for essay ideas or wanted more feedback. Many of them are also in the midst of very interesting research.
Are there any aspects of your history degree which have influenced your career?
In terms of knowledge and skills, it would be how to use and talk about primary sources properly, as well as where to find them. It seemed like such hard work at the time but it wasn’t really until I got to my MA, I realized how important it was to have the skill of using them well and where to look for them. Now, working as part of the archives and collections, those skills will help me talk about primary sources to a range of different audiences as well as understanding how we catalogue and care for historic material.
Next, learning about so many different lenses to view history through. At school it can be so one sided, but then coming to university and doing the Making History module you find yourself with hundreds of avenues to explore as you go along, finding out what works for you and deep down what you enjoy.
Did you undertake any work experience whilst at Kent?
From 2018- 2019 I was Vice President/Outreach for T24 Drama Society, becoming President for 2019-2020. The experience gained with this society was invaluable. Everybody is so dedicated, their performances are high quality and its such a good opportunity to learn how to run all aspects of a theatre company as well as gain fantastic performance, directorial, management and production experience.
I created the Outreach aspect of the Vice President role by running workshops for schools and The Gulbenkian and bringing theatre companies such as Les Enfants Terribles and Frantic Assembly for both members and School of Arts Students. These outreach programs and my later experience of being responsible for running such a large and busy society are going to be such a huge help in my new job as I’ll be working with schools and young adults very closely as well as creating and scheduling educational programs and coordinating volunteers.
So many people from the society, many of whom did not even study drama, have gone on to do incredible things in the world of theatre and are definitely part of the industry’s future.
I also worked at the Canterbury Tales where a lot of other Kent students worked. It was fantastic for understanding how history can be delivered to the pubic in an accessible and engaging way. I’d recommended getting involved with local heritage as much as you can!
Could you describe a typical day in your current role?
I have a briefing with the museum curator in the morning who I work very closely with about any immediate tasks I may have to undertake. This could be replying to a school or adult group about arranging a workshop or the use of a loan box for object handling in the classroom.
Currently I am working on making new, and updating, the loan boxes and education packs, which involves having a good hunt through our collection and archives for quirky and interesting material that can be used not only to tell Bromley’s story but make a connection to wider history. Some of the most interesting material includes David Bowie’s clothes because he grew up and went to school in the area!
Its also my job to ensure I am always looking for outreach opportunities with local societies, schools and adult learning groups.
If the curator is preparing funding applications or exhibition, I will also help with that, as well as viewing objects that are being offered to the collection.
What is your favourite memory of Kent?
There are so many, but one thing that I look back on really fondly is spending the night before an essay was due in the library with friends from a range of courses all working together. We’d do Co-op runs for dinner and snacks – some people even brought blankets! We’d be there through the night until sometimes 8am the next morning, editing and helping each other out when you felt stressed. I used to have a stack of books about twenty high that needed putting back at the end of it, so we’d split up and put them all back. It was a really simple sweet thing that happened with every essay, but its moments like that you hold onto. It something I really missed not doing with my MA being all online this year due to Covid.
What advice would you give to somebody thinking of coming to Kent to study history?
Don’t worry about having a defined idea of what sort of historian you want to be. I came to Kent thinking I was going to specialise in World War One and somehow along those lines I’ve ended up as an Early Modernist looking at theatre! And that’s the best part, that you have this opportunity to explore different aspects of the history course. 3 years goes so fast so do modules just for the fun of it, not because you want to become a historian in that area.
How would you describe your time at Kent in three words?
Creative, fun and explorational.
Are you currently working on a project that you would like to tell us a bit more about?
I have worked on The Beginners Call Theatre Podcast (two series available on Spotify) for their Catch it if you Can segment. The podcast talks to new creatives about their work in the theatre industry and advice for students and graduates. This is with Kent Alumni Toby Smith, now a West End Theatre Tech Manager, and Chris Sharrock, now a Marketing Officer for Harrow Arts Centre and Headstone Manor. Many of the guests featured are also Kent Alumni who are up and coming in the arts industry!
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