Celebrating Postgraduate Success: Miguel Santos

Originally written by Katia Rahman 

Pursuing higher education is an incredible accomplishment, and we believe it’s essential to recognize the hard work, dedication, and achievements of our postgraduate community. We will be sharing stories of students who have overcome challenges, excelled in their academic pursuits, and made significant contributions to their respective fields. We will also explore the importance of recognizing and celebrating academic success, both for the students themselves and for the broader academic community. Let us introduce you to Miguel Santos who kindly shared their story with us.

I am Miguel, a Masters by Research student in English. Despite having just started my degree in September 2022, I feel immensely proud of all that I have been able to accomplish this year, both academic and co-curricular.

On the academic side, I have presented my research as part of a panel at the Research Salon series last month. This was my first time presenting in front of an academic audience, comprised of academic staff (including my supervisor) as well as PhD students. From this experience, I feel more confident sharing my ideas; the feedback I had gotten was immensely helpful and satisfying, as I was quite anxious about my first conference presentation.

I have also been fortunate to have contributed to 100 Years: T.S. Eliot and The Waste Land Exhibition, an exhibition at the Templeman Library, which is open until 30 April. As the only student contributor to this exhibition, it was an honour to be involved. I had the chance to engage in archival research with the Special Collections Team. I endeavoured to make my writing accessible and concise, rather than abstruse and dense. This informed my thinking about how to write accessibly for a non-academic audience and, moreover, the importance of public engagement.

“My advice for any existing or future PG students is to share your ideas with staff and fellow PhD students; do not feel the need to have all the answers worked out and enjoy the process of discussing ideas, even with academics who have expertise in your field.” 

Being part of the thriving research culture at Kent has been exciting and brilliant. As part of the Research Salon committee, we recently successfully secured funding due to the generosity from the Arts and Humanities PGR Events Fund, giving me experience in writing a funding proposal. I am also part of the editorial board of Litterae Mentisthe University’s postgraduate-led, peer-reviewed literary journal, which has given me a unique perspective on writing for academic journals, demystifying the peer-review process and the publishing process.
In my co-curricular activities, I try to represent the postgraduate community as best as I can as a committee member of the Postgraduate Network, which aims to foster the PG community here at Kent. So far, we have organised events both at Canterbury and at Medway; represented the PG community’s views to Kent Union on issues such as UCU industrial action from a PGR perspective, as well as in successfully pushing Kent Union to drop its officer restructure (5-to-4) proposal. We have also hosted a hustings session for the latest Kent Union elections.
I also act as a Student Rep for the School of English, where I have sat on boards, including the GRC Board. It is a fantastic chance to network with other academic staff and to bring the PGR student perspective on areas such as student voice and communications, as well as to work closely with the GRC Team.
I have also presented at a Careers event, focusing on the employability skills I had developed as an UG volunteer at Kent (Environment Officer). This gave me the opportunity to reflect on the skills I had gained and the opportunity to hopefully inspire other students to get involved with sustainability.

“I would encourage anyone to get involved with activities, volunteering or representation; be optimistic that every action you take and every discussion you have will inform your personal development.”

Outside of this, I am so happy to be engaging in the thriving research and social community at Kent. I feel more prepared in progressing in my career and academic ambitions. If my career is to continue in academia, I see the importance of exchanging ideas, attending events, and sharing my research, even if it is at its early stages. Equally, if it is in a career outside academia, I feel confident in my communication skills to marshal complex academic concepts in an accessible manner. Furthermore, I have improved professional competencies in my knowledge of fields adjacent to academia, such as in publishing, archives, and student representation.