Kent’s Religious Studies programmes are uniquely varied, covering all major world religions and traditions. Such diversity of study requires Kent students to quickly develop deep critical and analytical skills. Not only will these skills help you to excel on your course, but they will prepare you to be adaptable in the world of work. Hannah Thomas graduated in 2018 and now works for Christian Aid. Read on to learn how her time at Kent prepared her for her role.
What are you doing now?
I’m currently the Youth Activism and Campaigning Officer at international humanitarian and sustainable development charity, Christian Aid. My job is to equip young adults aged 18-30 in effective campaigning and activism, speaking truth to power and creating change in their local context for a global vision of eradicating poverty and witnessing real climate justice.
What attracted you to your course and to Kent?
The opportunity to study my course with a huge variety of module options. My course at Kent broadened my mind to learn about major world religions, helped me to discover the impact of religion on modern society and opened my eyes to perspectives on the social, political and ethical challenges facing our world. From feminism to fundamentalism, money to migration and sociology to climate change. I even studied Religion and Film!
Some of my favourite modules were Cracking Biblical Codes, Modern Islam, Death of God and Global Christianities. Even the titles alone make you realise that religion impacts every aspect of our lives, often in ways we don’t fully understand. In this essay I’ll attempt to…sorry, couldn’t help myself.
Which aspects of your degree did you enjoy the most?
My year abroad! In my third year, I studied at California State University, Long Beach as part of an exchange programme. I studied Queer Religions, American Religious Diversity, Religion and Colonialism and so much more.
Studying in California in the year Donald Trump was elected as the President of the United States of America, I learnt how closely connected religion and politics are (both in and out of the lecture halls) and just how much it impacts the fabric of society.
What impressed you most about our academic staff?
Their compassion. University had many highs but also intense lows. During my degree a very close family member of mine passed away. I’ll never forget the compassion and empathy shown to me by my tutors at the time who provided all the support I needed to get back on track with my studies after being away on compassionate leave.
Which skills did you learn on your course that you use most now in your career?
The skills I learnt on my course have been invaluable: these include critical thinking, research, analysis, writing and communication. A skill I use in particular is the ability to convey complex information in an engaging way. For example, whilst working as a Digital Content Editor, I would often have to repurpose (what can be viewed as) dry, complex policy into inspiring copy that encouraged action from supporters during major fundraising appeals.
Did you undertake any work experience whilst at Kent?
It was a huge privilege to complete some volunteering and work experience at Catching Lives in Canterbury. My activities included cooking and serving dinner, cleaning and helping to build engagement through social events with clients who were either rough sleepers or in emergency social housing.
I was also part of the Homeless Outreach Society, entirely led by University of Kent students. We would distribute food from Greggs to the homeless in the town centre and drop off anything remaining at Catching Lives.
I can’t recommend work experience and volunteering enough to university students. It’s great experience to have on your CV and helps employers to see the skills you’ve learnt and practiced.
Could you describe a typical day in your current role?
No day really is ever the same. My daily work includes social media and digital content planning and producing, strategy writing, event planning, project management and community building.
Overall, my everyday task is to continually help to build power amongst young activists at Christian Aid. I love my job!
What are your future plans?
I would love to continue working into digital campaigning, mobilisation and engagement. I’m a huge believer in the power of collective action by ordinary, regular people seeking to make big change. I love creating digital experiences and content that inform and inspire people to take action. A job focused on justice and being cause led will always be what I aspire to. It’s the most fulfilling, hard, yet transformative work you could do.
What advice would you give to somebody thinking of coming to Kent?
What you put in is what you’ll get out of it. Get involved as much as possible, meet new people and make use of all the opportunities there are, on and off campus. Also, prepare yourself for the workout that is Eliot footpath – especially when you’re running late for a 9am.
How would you describe Kent in three words?
Transformative, challenging and fun!
Are you currently working on a project that you would like to tell us a bit more about?
I currently volunteer as a Charity Sphere Leader for Just Love, helping graduates to restore, reimagine, re-inspire, and transform the charity sector. If you want to find out more, you can follow us on Instagram @jlcharitysphere. We would love for you to join us.
And if you’re interested in putting your faith into action and joining a community of young activists, you can help me do my job by joining Christian Aid Collective @thecacollective. We’ve got lots of exciting stuff for you to get involved in.
Lastly, you can also follow me on Twitter @hnnhthomas for all things faith, justice, and life as a British South Asian.
This is a repurposed version of a blog post and may differ from the original. View the original blog post.