Many students have passed through Kent but what are they up to now? In the After Kent series, we talk to Eliza Islam who studied Politics and International Relations with a Language (Spanish) (2017 – 2021).
What do you miss the most about studying Politics at Kent?
I miss the academic environment as a whole, being in a space I could solely focus on learning. I loved my lectures and seminars and my teachers were great. The open forum is another thing I miss, it was a great space where students could go and listen to lecturers talk about their research. I miss seeing my friends every day in Canterbury to now seeing them a few times a year since we live across the world.
What are you up to now?
I’m currently working in the third sector. I am the Outreach and Partnership Officer at Fat Macy’s, a social enterprise tackling homelessness through culinary and hospitality training and wellbeing support. I also am the Community Advocate Coordinator at Toynbee Hall where I am coordinating Linkage Plus Service users to evaluate their own services and put their voices at the forefront of demanding change. I just finished a project with Tower Hamlets Council, Historic England and Toynbee Hall regarding the Wentworth Street Conservation Area in Aldgate, an area that has been undergoing gentrification due to its proximity to the City of London. It is the first time this project has been run in the UK. My job as a Community Appraiser was to survey and document the condition of the area and to propose and amplify reforms that the local community need and want.
How has studying Politics at Kent prepared you for the future/your current position?
Studying at Kent has made me more aware of the world around me, including the injustices that still remain and ways to tackle. While working in the third sector, I can see all the things that I’ve learned at play. Studying at Kent also helped me while I was researching the Wentworth Street Conservation Area as I was able to apply my research skills while going through mountains of sources in London archives. I also learned Spanish at Kent and got to do a year abroad in Valencia, which was one of the best times of my life. I learned so much about myself and I feel more confident in moving abroad and taking risks. It’s also super useful when navigating Spanish-speaking parts of the world!
What advice would you give potential/current Politics students?
My advice for Politics students would be:
- Keep up to date with current affairs
- Join societies: there’s lots of great ones at Kent where you’ll meet people and have fun
- Access all the resources that the department and the university have to offer, and make use of office hours
- Take trips around Kent, there’s lots of cool and pretty places to see and explore
- Keep an open mind
What do you plan to do in the future?
I don’t know! I’m still undecided of what I want to do in the future, but I’ve been thinking about filmmaking and the creative industry. I may also decide to study further, continue to work in the third sector, or move abroad. Regardless, I hope whatever I choose to do will help people.
Eliza Islam graduated with a degree in Politics and International Relations with a Language (Spanish) BA (Hons) 2017-2021.