Category Archives: Finalists

Taking photo of group of students

A few words from a past finalist

It may be cliché to say, but everyone should treasure their memories of University. While the workload may at times seem insurmountable and each essay title not too dissimilar to the next, there is always someone who can help.

Having moved beyond my undergraduate course at the University of Kent, I can say without a doubt it was the support that saw me through. Through the guiding hand of my seminar leaders, I met a seemingly innumerable number of deadlines with confidence. The range of experiences on my course broadened my horizons and have helped me to become a more focused individual.

When the threat of the occasional close deadline appeared, the Support and Wellbeing department saw me through. Their mentoring offered me a relaxed environment where I could talk through my issues.  When buses failed to appear yet again or there was another inter-club scandal, someone in the University would always be there to comfort me.

The experiences I have had and the friends I have made during my time at Kent have changed me for the better. University has helped build my confidence and I am excited for whatever comes next.

-Angus Nisbet, English and American Literature MA

Angus Nisbet in graduation gown and cap

Students sat chatting to each other

Making the most of your final year

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that final year is by far the most stressful and important year of your studies at Kent; a dissertation here, a 4000 word essay there, and pretty soon you can find yourself forced to cut back on the things you loved doing in your first few years. But do you have to? Spoilers, the answer is no.

The pressure to perform in your final year is no joke, but with some good time management you can 100% make time for the other activities you did in your earlier years. It might not be to the same extent as before but you’ll still have the opportunity to escape your studies and be a part of something, whether that be a Kent Union network, Student Rep, committee member, or if your timetable is looking especially lenient, all of the above.

You definitely don’t want to look back on your third year after you graduate wishing you’d made more of it; that you’d been a part of that sports team you’ve been looking at since first year, or joined that society committee you’re passionate about. Studies are important and your degree will set the tone for your future employment, but I would argue that the skills you learn as a rep or committee member or any other volunteering role at Kent will be just as important to a potential employer as a First Class degree.

-Ethan Basso, Undergraduate Sciences Faculty Rep

Ethan Basso

mental health spelt out with tile letters

Trial and Error: Little things that helped me with my mental health

Encouraging good mental health has always been something I have been passionate about, having suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, anxiety and depression for the majority of my life. Coming to university, I found that my illnesses were exacerbated at first, as having to completely adjust to a new life can be stressful for anyone. Through a lot of trial and error, I have found ways to cope with my mental health and all the stress that comes with being mentally ill. Hopefully some of my experiences will help other people during their time at uni too.

I was privileged to have joined UKC Student Minds and be the President of the society for the past two years. Working alongside and forming friendships with other students who have had similar experiences to me was fantastic for not only normalising my experience but allowing me to develop a strong support system that has uplifted me throughout my time at Kent. As a society, we have pioneered important conversations around mental health, expanded our reach and created a safe space for mentally ill students in Kent to find support and assurance. Joining a society like ours is fantastic for creating these support systems for yourself, but any society where bonding and friendship is encouraged will be hugely beneficial to your mental health; humans are not solitary creatures, and we thrive with one another.

One of the most important things I had to learn on my mental health journey was the art of self-care. A lot of people think that it’s all bath bombs and face masks, and whilst I do love nothing better than wearing a sheet mask and watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians, there is a lot more to it than that. Self-care is doing the ‘boring’ things, like cleaning your room or brushing your teeth. It’s practising CBT techniques like Socratic thinking and thought journaling. It’s allowing yourself the opportunity to cry. Your feelings and emotions are valid and acknowledging them and allowing yourself to feel them is essential to nourishing your soul and furthering the healing process.

Seeking help is never something to be ashamed of or avoided. It is undeniable that access to mental health services is getting increasingly difficult, and the cost of these services can perturb people from utilising them. However, there are a lot of free services that you can access, especially during your time at uni. I have been very lucky to have accessed the therapy services at University during my time at Kent; I had an assessment with the Wellbeing Centre, who then organised twelve free sessions for me. In my second year I went through a charity called ThinkAction, who helped me address my OCD and the behaviours behind it. I made the decision to begin medication and consulted with my doctor about whether or not it was the right thing for me. I utilised online services like BigWhiteWall, where you can anonymously talk with your peers and develop an online support system.

Everyone’s mental health journey is different. We all cope in different ways, experience things in different ways. But as long as you form your support system, share your thoughts and feelings, and take the time to give yourself the love and care that you deserve, things will become more manageable. You’re never alone, I promise.

-Ellen Dean, English and American Literature and Creative Writing

Ellen Dean

Four people with arms around each other facing away

Support available for you at Kent

Picture this: you’re struggling with something academic and you need some help. Probably sounds familiar doesn’t it? So you go to your friends and ask them about it, but they can’t help. Now what? Luckily Kent has a huge range of support mechanisms for just this kind of issue, like your Student Rep. Every course has a Student Rep who gets elected every year by students, for students. If it’s an academic issue a lot of people are having they’ll take it to Student Voice Committees, where they are discussed with other Student Reps and key staff within your school to try and fix them, or send them higher up to more senior meetings if needed.

If it’s an issue that no one else seems to be having, or maybe one you don’t feel comfortable discussing with your friends, your Academic Adviser is available to help you. Every non-PGR student at Kent has an Academic Adviser who is there to provide guidance with academic matters you’re struggling with, as well as pointing you in the right direction to other services like Student Support & Wellbeing or Student Advice, to name a few.

-Ethan Basso, Undergraduate Sciences Faculty Rep

Ethan Basso