Category Archives: Kent Stars

Students Tobias and Nicolette leading a workshop

Kent Stars: Motivational Mentors

Nicolette and Tobias are this month’s Kent Stars. Tobias and Nicolette, both peer mentors, created a series of successful workshops for fellow Psychology students to ensure knowledge and connection was not lost between year groups after the pandemic. Hear more from our motivational mentors Tobias and Nicolette:

Nicolette – “Hi, my name is Nicolette Wilson and I’m a second-year psychology student. Psychology has always been an interest of mine. Since coming to university, I have become a student representative and a peer mentor. These responsibilities have allowed me to connect with and explore my passion to help others, using the insights I gain from studying psychology and human behaviour to learn how I can inspire others to succeed at becoming the best versions of themselves.”

Tobias – “My name is Tobias, I am a Stage 3 Psychology student at Kent. I am a student mentor and part of the student experience team that organises seminars to highlight critical study skills needed to pass the first year of Psychology. I have experience as an assistant researcher, through the Research Experience Scheme in a cognitive neuropsychology project investigating mood, emotion, and executive cognitive control in my Stage 2. This year I am writing my final year project on individuals’ approval of out-group aggression in forensic and social psychology.”

Students Tobias and Nicolette smiling

Tell us about your APA Finesse workshops and how you came up with the idea to help reconnect students.

Tobias – “When I started my degree at Kent in 2020, the UK went into lockdown shortly after start of term. During my first year all lectures were online, effectively isolating each year group from one another. By the time we came out of lockdown we were still facing restrictions such as social distancing and Stage 3 students had graduated. In Stage 2, I realised that by the end of the year, another generation of psychology students would graduate and that their experiences would not be passed on to the next generation. It was time to rebuild and to start collaborating again.”

“As a Stage 2 peer mentor, I saw meaning in helping other students through their transition to university life. I came up with the idea when I was speaking with a fellow peer mentor about working together to help our mentees understand American Psychological Association (APA) writing style and report structure. Due to the lockdown, there was a decline in student-to-student coursework collaboration, making it more challenging for students to figure out what information was most relevant for each academic term.”

We organised a workshop where we presented foundations of psychology essay writing in APA style to our peer mentees. This was the start of APA Finesse, and in subsequent workshops we invited other Stage 1 students, regardless of whether they were part of the peer mentoring program. APA Finesse has since then expanded to include students of both Stage 2 and 3 as well as postgraduate students of various psychology disciplines.”

Nicolette “I became a student representative in my first year and took an interest in how students were finding the course. It immediately became apparent to me that there was a common need among students to better understand how to approach their assignments and with adjusting to the new expectations at university.”

“I went along to Tobias’ APA Finesse session and found it incredibly useful. I knew the potential it had to help the rest of the students in my year too. I was inspired get involved and help Tobias reach more students. By this point, I had already been thinking deeply about the causes of problems faced by students. We began discussing how to approach these problems, and pitched a series of workshops to a few lecturers, who welcomed and supported us with feedback and publicity. As a student, I can bring my own student perspective on how to overcome these issues, in a way that can’t be covered by lectures.”

“We launched the sessions at the beginning of this academic year for the new Stage 1 students, covering the key skills that are important for a student to develop, to grow and succeed in the course, including the basics of APA format and how a good essay is structured. The workshops encourage engagement from the students, getting them to answer and ask questions which develop their understanding of these key skills. Three workshops so far have been recorded and uploaded to Moodle, creating useful resources for students to refer to, whenever they need.”

Nicolette and Tobias leading workshop

What advice would you give to other students? 

Nicolette – “Use your time as an undergraduate as a chance to discover your interests. University is a unique place and time in your life, full of opportunities. There are many ways to learn and develop your interests during your time here, so normalise trying new things and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Even though it is often scary to do so, it is the best thing you can do, and it will always be worth it. Dedicate some time to getting involved with the things you discover you are passionate about. It is both exciting and rewarding and will lead you to some amazing places. Many opportunities await, so get involved!”

Tobias – “Although diversifying your friendships to include persons outside of your discipline or even non-students is healthy, I sincerely advise all students to identify at least one student on your course, preferably someone that you have multiple modules in common with and building an academic relationship with them. I can say with certainty as a senior undergraduate student and as a peer mentor, that having a study partner in your specific discipline will boost your engagement with the learning material. A solid academic relationship will also cultivate your independence by increasing your personal accountability as well as your accountability to others.”

What are your plans for the next year? 

Tobias – “I will stay at University of Kent next year to take a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology to pursue the independent BPS qualification route in forensic psychology as a trainee. I intend to further support undergraduate students in the hopes of strengthening the student culture at the School of Psychology. I hope to join the Psychology Society Committee next year and continue my work with fellow students of psychology and our professors, whose communication efforts and support have been invaluable.”

Nicolette – “I am involved in a research experience scheme project with some lecturers and students, aimed at understanding the current challenges for students in university education and how this impacts mental health. I hope to conduct research into this area for my final year project. I also joined the Association of Speakers Clubs earlier this year to practise public speaking. Writing speeches has been an excellent outlet for me to begin speaking about the topics I am passionate about and develop my character.”

Learn more about our Kent Stars campaign.

Students playing Korfball

Kent Stars: Kudos for Korfball

This month’s Kent Stars are the Korfball Society. They went from having very few players during the pandemic, to coming second in the national BUCS competition! A fantastic achievement. Hear from team members Gemma and Josh:

Josh – Hi, my name is Josh Jardine and I’m currently doing a master’s by research in Sport and Exercise Science. My main interests are mostly anything sport related, I’m a big QPR supporter and enjoy going out with friends and family.

Gemma – I’m Gemma Bealey and a Law and Politics LLB Student. Among other interests I am a very keen korfball player. I started playing korfball at age 7 after I was introduced to it at primary school and have played ever since. This has included playing for Kent Junior age groups and now playing in the National Korfball League. I’m also a qualified coach and have been able to coach in my old club for many years as well as coaching one of the Kent Youth Teams.

Tell us about Korfball and Kent’s national success. 

Gemma – Korfball is a mixed-sex game which originated in the Netherlands and has similarities to both netball and basketball. It is very fast paced and relies on a diverse team where all players can attack and defend. I joined UKC Korfball last year and was grateful to be able to join such a welcoming and social club. Due to not running for a year as a result of the pandemic, the club was much smaller than it is now, and nearly every member was new to Korfball.

Josh – Last year we competed in three tournaments: prelims, regionals, and nationals against other universities all over the country. After winning regionals we qualified for the national championships. At the nationals we managed to reach the final but unfortunately lost by two goals against UEA but being second in the country is nothing to be ashamed of!

Korfball Team smiling

What advice would you give to other students? 

Josh – Advice would I give to other students would be to join a society. Societies provide a great way to meet like-minded people or people with the same interests and hobbies as you.

Gemma – I would advise any students to just get stuck into university as much as they can through joining societies. This gives a student an instant social circle and an easy opportunity to make more friends. It also offers students with a better work/life balance to take the pressure off their studies. Korfball is a very welcoming and inclusive game with players of all abilities and level of experience. As not many players have played before we offer the opportunity learn a new sport together as a team which isn’t always possible in other games. Being mixed also gives the game a rare dynamic which is very refreshing.

What are your plans for the next year?

Gemma – I will graduate from Kent this year and know that I will continue to play korfball following this. I have continued to play with clubs outside university while I have also been representing the University at BUCS tournaments and while I will miss being able to play BUCS, I’m glad I will still be able to play the game at a competitive level. I also hope to be able to continue my coaching once I have left university and I have always enjoyed this.

Josh – While completing this master’s degree, I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to work for Gillingham Football Club while collecting data. So, my aim after this year is to hopefully get a job in a Sport Science department at a professional football club.

Learn more about the Kent Stars campaign.

Millie Knight

Kent Stars: Paralympic Powerhouse Millie

Our Kent Stars campaign celebrates our students doing amazing things – and Millie Knight already has some incredible achievements under her belt. Being visually impaired from a young age, she has not let this stop her and is not only a Paralympic Medallist in Skiing, but also a Commonwealth Karate Champion! Hear from Millie:

“My name is Millie Knight, and I am a 23-year-old 4x Paralympic medallist and 2x World Champion in Alpine Skiing. I am also a National and Commonwealth Champion in Karate. I also happen to be blind, but that bit is dull. I studied Psychology at Kent (graduating this week) and received an Honorary Doctorate in 2017.”

Tell us about winning a Bronze Medal at the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. 

“The 2021/22 season was extremely busy with Nationals, European Cups, World Cups, World Championships and Paralympics within three months. Winning the World Championships was an unexpected result and a significant confidence boost going into The Paralympics.

Beijing was my third Paralympic Games and a different experience from my previous two Games (2014/2018). Due to Covid restrictions, there were challenges, like no spectators and a requirement to wear FFP3 face masks all day (even when skiing). Despite the limitations, I enjoyed my time in Beijing and made the most out of the situation. I had no expectations of winning any medals at these games, as I knew my performances weren’t where they were four years ago. The Bronze felt like Gold to us; it was an incredible feeling.”

What advice would you give to other students? 

“Make the most out of your time at Kent, there are so many things available to you, but you must make an effort to push yourself and experience as much as possible. Three years sounds like a long time, but it flies past, don’t wait to try something next year; do it now, and you won’t regret it. If you are struggling, there is help, and people do care! I couldn’t believe the amount of available support at Kent compared to my previous university experiences.”

What are your plans for the next year?

“I plan to keep progressing with my performance in both my academic and athletic careers. Fingers crossed, I get selected for the European and World championships for karate. I will not be competing in skiing this year which will give me the time to fully recover from multiple injuries sustained over the last few seasons. Starting my old job at Kent Sport again will be exciting, so if you are in need of a sports massage, head on over to see me at the sports centre!”

Learn more about the Kent Stars campaign.


Student Rachel in 'The Shed' workshop

Kent Stars: Rolls-Royce Researcher Rachel

This month’s Kent Star is Rachel Muir, who won targetjobs Undergraduate of the Year Award Celebrating Neurodiverse Talent. Rachel explains why she applied (spoiler – it was a bigger competition that she realised!), how she is finding her internship at Rolls-Royce and her advice for other students. Hear from Rolls-Royce Researcher Rachel:

“Hello everyone, I’m Rachel! I’m currently in my penultimate year of computer science and working towards starting a PhD in software verification. Outside of academia, I enjoy spending time in The Shed, within Cornwallis, where Tinker Soc is held. Designing different projects and working on them with friends is one of my favourite activities. In the evenings, I love free-style ice skating, bike rides down the incredible Canterbury bike trails and spending time with my friends through activities such as guitar or gaming.”

Rachel stood outside "The Shed" in Cornwallis

Tell us about winning targetjobs Undergraduate of the Year Award Celebrating Neurodiverse Talent.

“My original impression of the Undergraduate of the Year award was that I was applying for an internship with Rolls-Royce. Later I found out that it was a UK-wide competition that held quite a lot of weight. It was quite the shock to find out the scale of the award and I certainly felt out of my depth.

However, as time went on, I met some fellow contestants online who were shortlisted for winning, and others who worked at R2 Factory, connected to the internship. Getting to know the other contestants, and learning more about who would be attending the awards and what the experience would be like, was a great comfort for me. I’d never been to a large event in front of so many people, and as someone who usually remains out of the attention of others, this was a new challenge.

On the day of the awards, I got to meet all the shortlisted contestants in person as well as James Corbin, Head of Careers and Employability at Kent, whom I was really glad came to support me! It was amazing to meet others who had made it to the award ceremony, and knowing they were also neurodiverse gave me a sense of pride and recognition for us achieving something amazing. With 300 people in the room, there was certainly an atmosphere of excitement, anticipation and nerves. Hearing the backstories for the awards was a reminder that one person can reach such a vast number of people, and you could see the emotional effect some of the awards had on the room.

As overwhelmed as I was when it was announced, I was honoured to win the award for the neurodiversity category and humbled by all the different challenges overcome and accomplishments from the other winners and short-listed contestants. I’ve really enjoyed the first couple of weeks of the internship learning so many new things, and I can’t wait to see what the next 10 weeks brings me.”

What advice would you give to other students?

“I said earlier that I didn’t quite understand the scale of the award when I first applied. This may have been the reason I didn’t hesitate much when applying, as if I knew the scale, I may have assumed I couldn’t win and never applied.

I would urge anyone to apply for anything that piques their interest, whether it’s an award or an opportunity that arises. Even if you have doubts about how far you may get, or whether you have a chance of winning, you can always give it a go. If you’re interested about a subject, why would you not be able to do it?”

Rachel soldering

What are your plans for the next year?

“I hope to travel during the summer and explore a little bit more of England, and the world. I would like to try and incorporate some small coding camps or competitions during my travel and gain more experience. Hopefully I will learn more about programming, but my favourite part of travelling is learning about other people’s backgrounds, cultures, what they’ve learnt and what I can learn from them. After my final year ends, my intention is to start a PhD and see where it leads me.”

Learn more about the Kent Stars campaign.

Kent Star: Cultural Connector Grace

This month’s Kent Star is Grace Ingram, who organised and led a “Mixed Roots” event to help individuals discuss their experiences of coming from multiple and undefined cultural and ethnic backgrounds, celebrating these often-overlooked identities. Hear from Cultural Connector Grace:

“Hi, I’m Grace Ingram. I’m doing an MSc in Conservation Project Management. I’m part of the Postgraduate Network and I work at Oaks Nursery on campus. A fun fact about me is I have a playlist for everything. I love music! I played viola and violin for 11 years. Music is still a big part of my life, even beyond classical compositions, which I mostly just listen to when I’m studying or working on assignments. When I’m angry I listen to rap and when I’m energized I listen to Golden Oldies Motown. There’s a song for every mood!”

Can you tell us about the “Mixed Roots” project?

” ‘Mixed Roots’ was an informal conversation with individuals coming from multiple and undefined cultural and ethnic backgrounds speaking on their experiences. Panellists from four main backgrounds (diaspora communities, biracial individuals, Third Culture Kids, and adoptees) answered various questions in a relaxed on-stage atmosphere. I organised the event and also spoke on my experiences as a transracial international adoptee.

The event was a ‘fishbowl’ discussion – fishbowls are frequently called the ‘unconference’. Unlike traditional panels that prioritise making the audiences feel comfortable, fishbowls encourage the audience to suspend their own feelings and rationale to listen with the intention of understanding, rather than responding.

This event was made possible due to the generosity of the Graduate and Researcher College’s Postgraduate Community Experience Awards. However, this event was created because of the vast amount of people falling into these plural and undefined identities, but the lack of collective representation for them here on campus and in broader society. ‘Mixed Roots’ presented an opportunity to listen and humanize individuals with conflicting identities and conflicting senses of community— taking the conversation beyond that evening.

Following the event, we collected general feedback from audience members:

  • 78% of respondents said prior to Mixed Roots they had not been provided with opportunities to learn about these backgrounds at Kent.
  • 100% of respondents said they would like more opportunities to learn about and celebrate ‘mixed roots’ with many interested in incorporating various topics into the discussion alongside race and culture including: gender & sexuality; religion & faith; politics; pop culture & current events; & mental health.

Many respondents also expressed an interest in seeing additional collaborations with future mixed roots events with: LGBTQ+ Network/ Society; A specific racial/ethnic society; Women’s Network; Faith Network; International Network; Accessibility Network; Student Support and Wellbeing.

This feedback points us in the right trajectory regarding future ‘Mixed Roots’ events which is very exciting!”

What advice would you give to other students?

“A piece of advice I would give is that the one of the best ways you can invest in yourself is by investing in community. I think these investments can take place in many forms whether attending listening events like ‘Mixed Roots’, participating in university or community service projects, or getting involved in social justice campaigns. I think even more can be said when we choose to invest in diverse communities— communities different from our own— in regards to race, nationality, gender, sexuality, socio-economic status, etc.”

Student Grace smiling holding Mixed Roots event flier

What are you plans for this year?

“I graduated from university this past May and will finish this Conservation Project Management MSc in September. While I’ve enjoyed my studies so far, but I’d like to do some learning beyond the classroom. Community service is a huge passion of mine, so I’m currently looking at taking a gap year or two with a credible humanitarian/service organisation like the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. Living abroad in the UK has been an enriching experience. I’d love to serve in a different city, state, or country, if possible.  I believe that community service will only strengthen my future career in conservation.”

Learn more about the Kent Stars campaign.

Student Lewis Powell smiling with poker chips on table in front of him

Kent Star: Meet Activities Advocate Lewis

This month’s Kent Star is Lewis Powell, who has been involved in a wide range of activities during his time at Kent. From football to esports, President of the Poker Society to Peace Ambassador. Hear from our Activities Advocate Lewis about what he’s been up to:

“I’m Lewis Powell and I’m a final year student studying Economics with Econometrics. I have many hobbies which take up most of my free time. I love football (playing and watching), although Southampton’s end of season form have been testing that love. My other interests include esports and poker as well as travelling. Last September I was a Peace Ambassador for an organisation called Peaceline where we travelled through Germany, Latvia. Lithuania and Poland. A fun fact is that I qualified and played in the €1150 Irish Open Main Event poker tournament in 2019 in Dublin when I was 19.”

Tell us about some of the activities you have been involved with during your time at Kent.

“I have played 6-a-side football with my team every week at Football Frenzy which has been great fun and fuelled my competitive spirit. I had always loved supporting my football team but hadn’t played much during secondary school. Getting involved, improving as a player and having my own team is one of the best things I’ve done during university and it is an activity I look forward to every week.

During the various lookdowns, I decided to fuel my competitive spirit by joining one of the university Counter Strike Global Offensive online teams in my third year at Kent. I hadn’t played hardly at all in the two years prior but soon got super invested in my team and loved competing against other universities twice a week in NUEL and NSE (Esports platforms). As our team evolved through various changes to the roster I decided to step up by becoming the captain and in-game leader. We had a team who were willing to practice, on the same page and whom we had good synergy. Shoutout to Ethan, Max, Tommy and especially Jamie (who I’ve teamed with for 2 years) for all the hard work they put in.

I have also been President of Kent Poker the last two years. I am extremely proud of building back the society after the pandemic to build a loyal community of poker lovers. I am sure the community will continue to thrive going into next academic year.”

What advice would you give to other students?

“Your input is your output. Get involved! There really is a society for everyone at Kent and I would encourage anyone to pursue their hobbies in your spare time. You don’t want to look back on a university experience where you only studied and partied. Some the best time I’ve had at university have been within my various teams and societies and meeting many different people. I would also encourage students to do things over summer; whether that is working, spending time on a side project or participating in programs abroad. This will give you lots of stuff to talk about with potential employers.”

Student Lewis sat at table with playing cards and poker chips

What are your plans for the next year?

“As soon as I finish my exams I am off to Las Vegas for 7 weeks. I will be working as a tournament reporter at the 53rd World Series of Poker from 31 May-19 July for PokerNews. There I will be covering the action from the most popular poker tournament series in the world. I am also hoping I will have some time to relax after a really intense academic year. When I return to the UK I will evaluate my options and see what direction I want to go in next.”

Learn more about the Kent Stars campaign.

Hannah and Jireh

Kent Stars: Diversity Champions Hannah and Jireh

This month’s Kent Stars are Global Officers Hannah and Jireh. As part of the Global Officers Leadership Development (GOLD) programme, they have been involved in a wide range of activities including the organisation of WorldFest, our annual celebration of cultural diversity at Kent. Hear from our Diversity Champions Hannah and Jireh:

Hannah – My name is Hannah Kirabo, and I am studying Law. I am an international student originally from Uganda and Eritrea, but I live in Eswatini. My main interests include going out to eat and working creatively. I also like to read, take pictures, and spend time with friends and family.

Jireh – Hello! I am Jireh Akandwanaho, a final year Law with French student and an international student from Uganda. Moving to the UK sparked my interest in diversity, especially in cultures and languages. Some fun facts about me are that I am the last born out of seven, I speak five languages and I love Jesus.

Tell us about the Global Officers Leadership Development Programme and your involvement with WorldFest

Hannah – The Global Officers Leadership Development Programme is a programme run by the International Programmes department of the University. It comprises of a series of workshops on cultural intelligence, leadership skills, planning and effectively executing tasks. The bulk of the programme comes from involvement in various activities including Global Hangouts, Campus Tours, Orientation Activities and WorldFest, and I have had the pleasure of taking part in all of these. Leading up to WorldFest I was involved in the marketing and communications, launch video and world quiz. I edited the launch videos that went up on the Global Officers’ Instagram and the University’s instagram story. I took part in the planning of the world quiz – formulating questions, setting up the quiz and running it as an in-person Global Hangout. I also attended the weekly planning meetings for feedback. I thoroughly enjoyed being part of such a successful celebration of cultural diversity!

Jireh – I applied for the GOLD programme because I was interested in working with the Dean of Internationalisation and wanted to support and contribute to making the University a more conducive environment for the international community. My experience as a Global Officer has been so enriching to my cultural intelligence and has developed my leadership skills through various activities for example participating in Worldfest. We were given opportunities to put forward ideas and organise various events for Worldfest as well as handling the marketing aspects. I was part of the marketing team where I got to write a newspaper article about Worldfest in the student newspaper, as I have always wanted to do, and I also made a virtual tour video of my beloved country, Uganda. It was such an incredible experience, thanks to the creative freedom and support we were given by the university to implement and plan our ideas.

What advice would you give to other students?

Hannah – Try new things. The worst-case scenario likely will not happen and, you will be glad you tried.  You meet many interesting people through getting involved and it is a great way to put yourself out there, make friends and discover who you are and what you may be interested in.

Jireh – I would advise students to get out of their shells and get involved in the various activities available to them during their stay at university. Not only do these activities increase their skill set but are also opportunities to network and meet new people. Plus, they are usually fun too.

What are your plans for the next year?

Hannah – I hope to get more involved in the Kent Student Law Society, focus on my studies and look into placements and internships for the vacation period both here and at home. I also plan to continue to try new things and explore more of Canterbury and England at large.

Jireh – My plans after I finish Kent is to go on to take a year out doing some legal internships or graduate roles as I also utilise my creative skills to create various sources of income for myself. Then, I would like to do a Masters and qualify as a solicitor.

Applications for the 2022/23 Global Officers Leadership Development (GOLD) programme will open in July 2022.

Learn more about the Kent Stars campaign.

Student Bella pushing wheel barrow in Kent Community Oasis Garden

Kent Star: Sustainability Superstar Bella

This month, we’re celebrating Sustainability Superstar Isabella who has been working with the Sustainability Team on a wide range of projects this year. Hear from Bella about the Climate Café project, the Hedgehog Friendly campus initiative, the Kent Community Oasis Garden and much more:

“My name is Isabella Sabin-Dawson, and I’m currently in the 3rd year of my Environmental Social Science undergraduate degree. I am interested in ‘eco-anxiety’, a new concept that describes the fears that people experience in response to dangerous changes in the climate system, and also how spending time in nature can have a positive impact on our wellbeing. I can often be found at the beach walking with my dog, practising mindfulness, or crocheting amigurumi characters in a cosy corner.”

What are you doing to improve Sustainability at Kent?

“This year, for my year in professional practice, I have taken on the role of ‘Sustainability Projects Officer’ at Kent as I was lucky enough to get a work placement here with the Sustainability Team. Throughout this academic year I have planned events during Climate Action Week, helped the University achieve gold Hedgehog Friendly Campus status, written and filmed educational videos for the Sustainability website, and developed a new sustainability training module for staff to undertake in the new academic year.

In my second year at Kent, I began working with the School of Anthropology and Conservation Sustainability Working Group (SWG). I am now the SWG Wellbeing Subgroup Lead and we were recently awarded a runner-up position in the Sustainability Student Prize for our Climate Café project. A Climate Café is a space where our fears (and other thoughts and feelings) about the climate crisis can be safely expressed without judgement or advice. Expressing these thoughts and feelings can help to relieve eco-anxiety and help us to feel less alone in the changing world that we live in. There is always cake too, which is a bonus! We will be running Climate Cafés at the Kent Community Oasis Garden (KentCOG), so keep an eye on their Instagram if you are interested in coming along.

I have been volunteering this year with KentCOG, spending time with other students, staff and members of the public to grow fruit, vegetables, herbs and much more! Volunteering at the garden is very rewarding as you can see your hard work turn into something beautiful, and it has also been a great opportunity for me to make new friends and learn from others that have much more gardening experience than I do!”

What advice would you give to other students?

“If someone asked me for advice, I would say get involved! There are so many groups and societies that are working on loads of exciting projects. I’ve built dams in Blean Woods and planted trees on campus with UKC Conservation; made banners, attended climate marches and discussed climate politics with ECS society; and built campfires and experienced mindful walking with Community College Life.

Other environmental groups you could try out are BeetBox, EcoGeog, VegSoc, the Kent Union Sustainability Network, and the SAC SWG. I was hesitant to join in when I first started University, but getting involved with groups like this means you make friends with people that have similar passions and help you make a difference within your community.”

What are your plans for next year?

“Next year I will be back in seminar rooms and lecture theatres after finishing my placement in May! I am extremely excited to travel over the summer but I am also looking forward to starting my new modules in September. I like to keep busy and spend as much time in nature as possible, so I will make sure I can continue volunteering at KentCOG and working with the SAC SWG whilst studying. I intend to make it a fantastic final year!”

Learn more about the Kent Stars campaign.

Student Sami standing next to Employability Points scheme banner

Kent Star: Inspiring Intern Sami

This month, we’re celebrating Inspiring Intern Sami, who stood out to our Employability Points Team for his enthusiasm and dedication to undertaking skill developing co-curricular activities. Sami gained his internship at Reflect Digital through our Employability Points scheme. Hear from Sami:

“I’m Sami Bakaitis and I’m a final year student studying Classics with Italian. I love to travel to unique places and make the most of my time there, such as farming on a volcano in Sicily. Fun fact, I traversed through the Vietnamese jungle at the age of 16! My interests change frequently but I always enjoy going for a run so I can clear my head and keep fit.”

Tell us about your time at Reflect Digital.

“After a skills workshop with Becky Simms, I learnt that the Employability Points scheme was offering students with enough employability points the opportunity to apply for an internship at her company Reflect Digital. As a result, I joined as many sessions that applied to me and undertook extra-curricular activities that would get me extra points, such as starting a blog or updating my LinkedIn profile. Many points later, I was finally able to apply for the internship, ace the interview, and begin my journey with Reflect Digital!

The internship was intense but in the best way possible. The team at Reflect are considerate and always made sure that I was happy with the work I had been assigned. Even though I worked primarily on SEO, I was exposed to many other sectors such as PPC and social media advertising.

From the very first day I was immersed in a transparent workplace that felt relaxed yet always moving. My work consisted of learning the ins and outs of SEO through thorough research and quizzing my colleagues. After a week, I was set copywriting tasks and keyword research for clients. Copywriting involved following a detailed brief and writing a piece of content for the client while following SEO guidelines to help the article rank well. Although there was a numerous amount of copywriting tasks, I did enjoy writing them as the topics were wildly different such as writing content on how often you should replace your mattress to the benefits of cloud computing!

I was sad to go at the end of the internship as I still have one more year to finish at university, but it did give me a lot of confidence in my future career path and skills which I transferred into my uni presentations and assignment research methods.”

What advice would you give to other students? 

“Advice I would give to other students is that having a routine is paramount if you want to achieve your goals as it creates free time to be more productive. Dedicating meaningful time to learning a new skill is the best way to explore new career paths. I highly recommend taking an online course to get a surface understanding of the subject and seeing if it is something that you might enjoy. Moreover, mindfulness is a great way to recentre yourself if you keep feeling stressed from all the work. I joined the Mindfulness society here at Kent during lockdown in 2021 and it was the best decision ever!”

What are your plans for the next year?

“I will be taking an exciting role at Reflect Digital in early April as a PPC Analyst. This varying job will push me to explore new areas of digital marketing and learn a range of useful skills. One of my goals for the future is to start my own digital marketing company, and I believe that this role will help me work towards this goal.”

Learn more about the Kent Stars campaign.

Student Filipa holding a selfie frame for the consent campaign.

Kent Star: Consent Champion Filipa

We have some amazing students at Kent and we want to celebrate them with our new Kent Stars campaign. Filipa is our Kent Star this month, recognised for her inspiring work on the ‘Consent. Get It. Full Stop.’ campaign. Hear from Consent Champion Filipa:

“I’m Filipa Paes, and I’m about to wrap up the final year of my Law degree at Kent. Despite thoroughly enjoying my law degree I sometimes wonder whether I shouldn’t be studying Philosophy instead. But I guess, when it was time to choose, Law won – perhaps because of my interest in social change.”

Tell us about ‘Consent. Get it. Full stop.’ What is it and how did it come about? 

“After presiding over the student group UKC Respect the No in 2019/2020, I joined forces with the University of Kent to create the ‘Consent. Get It. Full Stop.’ campaign, a university-wide project that aims to cultivate and strengthen a culture of consent in our community.

Consent and sexual violence are complex topics to bring into conversations – often raising eyebrows and producing uncomfortable smiles. This feeling of ‘killing the vibe’ in the conversation stops many from getting involved and even standing up in situations where others are in danger. In the last year, however, following the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa, we have witnessed an increasing number of people discussing this challenging subject. Amongst other things, these murders are reminders that sexual violence is a problem and that we should put all our efforts into tackling this issue in our society, regardless of the degree of violence and extremism in each case and the amount of media (and social media) attention received.

With the launching of this consent campaign, we hope to shift the culture. By placing sex-positive messaging at its forefront and having student feedback as one of its chief ingredients, we invite all students and staff to participate in the conversation in any way they can. We want everyone to feel confident in their understanding of consent, how to practise it (without making it awkward!) and how to be active bystanders.

In the last few months, I’ve been working closely with Becky Wyatt, the University’s Specialist Adviser for Sexual Assault and Harassment. Together, we have talked to dozens of students, gathered their feedback and provided them with a forum to raise their concerns. We have been actively working on increasing transparency and accessibility by ensuring the University’s procedures, policies and expectations regarding sexual misconduct and assault are made clear and accessible to all. We have also increased the promotion of the specialist support for victims/survivors of sexual violence offered both within and outside the university so that everyone can get support and feel as safe as possible. The University’s internal support has also been made easier to access with the new reporting tool, Report + Support.

It has been an immense pleasure to work alongside Becky, and so many other great people across the University on this project and to see so many in our community – no matter their position at the University – getting involved.”

What advice would you give to other students?

“If I had to give anyone any piece of advice it would be to be perseverant (though others might put it as ‘stubborn’ or ‘annoying’) if you genuinely believe in a project’s potential to bring about change. This perseverance does need to come with full understanding that – in true consent fashion – you will hear loads of nos.  Oh, and a pretty good skill to master is the ability to put together a sound logical argument! Driving change takes a lot of persuasion, convincing and arguing (and no quarrelling).”

What are your plans for the next year?

“As my three eventful years at Kent come to an end, I look forward to dedicating myself fully to philosophy. Though it might appear wholly detached from the notion of consent and the campaign, ‘consent’ is very much about communication (verbal or otherwise), which is my main interest. I’m remarkably interested in how we communicate with each other and use language. As such, I plan on continuing my studies and research in the philosophy of law and language, with the ultimate goal of helping us understand each other a bit better!”


Do you know an inspiring Kent student or student group? Let us know

Learn more about the Kent Stars campaign.