Category Archives: Scholarship

Meet Shannon Laribo – 2016 UKA Kent Fulbright Scholar

This is Shannon Laribo and she received the 2016 UKA Kent-Fulbright Scholarship for her Master’s degree in Methods of Social Research. This scholarship is offered in partnership with the US-UK Fulbright Commission and supported by the University of Kent in America for a US citizen to undertake postgraduate studies at Kent. She shared her story with us.

After becoming interested in race studies during undergraduate study, I wanted to become an expert in the field. I hoped to acquire a skill set in research methodology in order to ensure that my future contributions to race and ethnicity research would be valid and significant. However, this depended on financial contribution.  Looming student loan debt from my undergraduate study made it impossible to embark on a more extensive academic journey without financial help and so receiving this scholarship was both an immense honor, and a necessity.

I plan to eventually create research-based educational initiatives to reduce prejudice in children at primary and secondary schools. My aspirations are of a global scope as I hope to continuously research the development of prejudice and ways to address children’s prejudice in an international context.

My parents, who have never been to the United Kingdom, traveled here to move me in.  As a lower-middle class, black American family in the south of the United States, international travel has neither been a priority or of easy access to us.  The only family members who travelled to other countries were those of military background, otherwise the act was seen as one for the rich.

My father was from a military family and had lived in Spain when he was a small child.  Given our financial and cultural constraints, he had not been back to Madrid and had never expected he would.  Forty years later, I was able to take my father back to Spain where we began a scavenger hunt for his home, neighbourhood, school and more.  This experience was of utmost importance to my family and me.

I am so inspired by fellow students.  Given my values of diversity and inclusion, I feel that I am consistently learning from the diverse backgrounds and thoughts of other students.  In seminars, students may make sense of the coursework through examples of their experiences in their home country.  To enrich the discussion we often further compare and contrast our varied experiences.  I am building lasting friendships with students from all over the world!

I appreciate Kent’s uniquely diverse environment and particularly the heightened amount of international students that live on campus at Woolf College.  I am exposed to people with a variety of experiences not just culturally, but also in their stage of life.  I am meeting students who have completed other master’s degrees in other countries, students who have worked for several years and are established within their career, students of all ages and walks of life.

£90,000 for Kent Opportunity Fund

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.


This November, our focus has been on the power of giving.  Rebecca Monteleone was the 2014 UKA Fulbright scholar and here she updates us on where life has taken her since Kent.

“I spent the year after I completed my MA at Kent as an intern with a federally-funded non-profit in Washington, DC that undertook research and training developing best practices for youth with disabilities transitioning into the workforce. During that time I published a policy brief on employment policy for people with disabilities in the US and published a version of my MA research in the Journal for Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities with Professor Rachel Forrester-Jones.

Over the summer, I received funding to present my research at the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities’ World Conference in Melbourne, Australia.

“I am currently finishing my first semester as a PhD student at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society. My current work is focused on the differing ways disability is conceptualized between individuals with intellectual disabilities and researchers in medical genetics and assistive technologies. I am a Fellow in a program funded through the National Science Foundation entitled the Alliance for Person-Centered Accessible Technologies.”


After finishing her thesis, 2011 Alumni Postgraduate Scholar Katy Upton got in touch to let us know where she is now – and what life after Kent has meant for her so far.

Having recently had my PhD thesis bound I have had some time to reflect on everything which has gone into creating a 200 page book! This is one of the greatest achievements of my life and I am very proud of the work and effort which has gone into my research, as well as eternally grateful of all the support I have received throughout. I submitted my thesis back in July and I can hardly remember those last few weeks of writing and traveling down to Canterbury to submit my final copy!

Shortly afterwards I applied for a job at Chester Zoo as a Curatorial Assistant working alongside the Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates. I was successful in my application and started working at the Zoo in August. I jumped straight into my role spending my first few weeks working on the Mountain Chicken studbook and have been involved in the preparation of the long term management plan for this species.

This has been very interesting work, getting to see how the captive population of these species are managed including pairing individuals based on the best genetic matches to help sustain the population in the future. In November I was lucky enough to travel to Prague where I was involved in the same process but for the Komodo Dragons.

I have been doing this job for seven months now and am thoroughly enjoying it. I regularly get to spend time working behind the scenes with the reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates and fish and even had a brief cameo in the TV programme The Secret Life of the Zoo. After successfully defending my thesis at my viva in September I had three months in which to complete my corrections.

This was a difficult process whilst working full time and enjoying my new found freedom no longer having to work long into the evenings running statistical analysis on my data. However I pushed through and had my corrections accepted in January, submitting my final thesis shortly afterwards. My next plan will be to write up my chapters as publications to share my work with other researchers.

I am currently really enjoying my time at Chester Zoo and hope it will continue long into the future. I still have loads to learn about the roles Zoos play in species conservation however from what I have seen at Chester I believe we can achieve great things.

You can see this article in the summer edition of KENT magazine.