Kent Stars – Nurturing Network

Maureen – “My name is Maureen Bungei, a PG student pursuing an MA in International Relations with International Law. I have been the Postgraduate Network Chair during the academic year 2022/2023 and handed over to Miquel Santos at the end of my term in April 2023. I was also supporting the College and Community Life team as a Resident Life Assistant in creating a community and sense of belonging for students on campus. As a member of the Kent Model UN Society, I have attended several conferences in London and the World Harvard MUN, a global event in Paris, France.”

Miguel – “I am Miguel Santos, a Master’s by Research student in English. I’m the de facto Chair of the Postgraduate Network, taking over from Maureen Bungei. My research focuses on 20th century Anglo-American experimental poetry. I am also a PGR Student Rep for English; the editor-in-chief of the university’s postgraduate, peer reviewed literary journal Litterae Mentis; and a committee member of the Research Salon. I have contributed to the Templeman Library’s ‘100 Years: T.S. Eliot and The Waste Land’ exhibition. I did my undergraduate at Kent as well, where I was involved as Environment Officer and in the Turing College Committee.”

Tell us about the Postgraduate Network and how you are making sure the postgraduate voice is represented at Kent.

Miguel – “The Postgraduate Network is led by postgraduate volunteers and aims to ensure that postgraduates get the most of their time here. We create campaigns and events, representing the voice of the postgraduate community to the university and Kent Union.

Our committee members include Megan Brown and Nteteawan Bassey-Duke. We’re proud to have a mix of taught and research students, as well as Ntete acting as our Medway representative.

Our aim is to ensure that the postgraduate experience is as thriving and vibrant as possible. Kent has an incredible postgraduate community who has shown so much support and kindness to me.

To support the postgraduate voice, we sit at boards and meetings to represent student feedback. In the autumn term, there was a proposed restructuring of Kent Union’s Officer Team. We organised a student feedback session at Jarman Plaza to gather the views of postgraduates. Because the PG community felt this was a step in the wrong direction, we were able to successfully push Kent Union to drop this proposal in January.

We have hosted events, both in Canterbury and Medway, including socials, study meetings, and a hustings session for the Kent Union elections. With the GRC, we co-organise monthly coffee mornings with guests, including Ben Bradley (Kent Union’s VP Postgraduate Experience), Mark Bass (Careers and Employability Service), and Professor Gordon Lynch (Graduate and Researcher College Director).

On a personal note, I’m indebted to the phenomenal work of postgraduates when I was an undergraduate here, particularly Rowena Bicknell and Tom Ritchie, who inspired me to care about the postgraduate community. I hope that our contributions will ensure that people feel part of the community in the same way Rowena and Tom made me feel.”

“On behalf of the Postgraduate Network, we are so grateful to the entire GRC Team for all the support and the kindness you have shown to us. We are so fortunate to work alongside you this year.”

What advice would you give to other students?

Miguel – “I would encourage anyone to get involved with co-curricular activities, volunteering or representation. Be optimistic that every action you take and every discussion you have will inform your personal development.

I should also highlight the mental health challenges postgraduates face; as such, it is important to remember you are part of a supportive community here.

Finally, while being nominated for a Kent Star means a lot to me, being part of the postgraduate community at Kent means even more. Although awards and recognition are lovely, we care about the postgraduate community simply because it is the right thing to do.”

Maureen – “You have the best time now to take part in co-curricular activities alongside your studies. The university has over 250 clubs and societies where you can take part and nurture your soft skills or sports fitness at your comfort. There are exciting opportunities like student representatives, student ambassadors, and Kent Union Network chairs that will give you an exciting experience that will give you an edge in your CV or interview not forgetting the employability points. Please take them up.

Your health and well-being is the most important aspect of your student experience here at Kent. The university provides academic and wellbeing support services that you are free to utilise and enhance your stay at the university.”

What are your plans for the next year?

Miguel – “The entire Postgraduate Network committee will finish our courses in September; we believe we’ve set a strong foundation for next year’s committee to work closely with the Graduate and Researcher College and Kent Union’s Ben Bradley. The GRC Team and Ben are our biggest supporters!

For myself, I hope to have a job prior to applying for a PhD. I would love to work in higher education in a professional/academic-adjacent role. I’m so grateful for my time at Kent and for all the people who have supported me; I can only hope that my involvement has helped make a difference.”

Maureen – “As I look forward to graduating this July, sadly I might not be here at Kent to oversee the network, but I strongly believe that we as the network committee (Miguel, Ntete, Megan  and I) have done our best and created a sense of belonging for PG community. We hope the next network chair/committee sustains the vibrant community as they will be lucky to work with Ben Bradley who actively supported us during our tenure. Personally, I would be considering doing my PhD sometime later, and the University of Kent definitely has a spot in the top 3.”

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