My name is Jen. I studied Business Studies with Digital Communications and Marketing and graduated in 2018.
"Be yourself, stand up for what you believe in and stand by your convictions"
Why did you choose to study studied Business Studies with Digital Communications and Marketing?
I was interested in having my own business one day and, as the business world is increasingly digital and online it made sense to pursue this programme. However, since attending University and graduating, my passions and interests have evolved.
What are you doing now?
I was working as a Student Leadership Coordinator @ GK Students Union, Medway. In September I started a position as Liberation, Diversity and Equality coordinator at the University of East Anglia' Student Union. The primary focus of my role is working on the campaign Decolonise UEA which will involve creating a greater sense of belonging for BAME students, educating the white student body around race and racism and collaborating with academic staff on the campaign.
If you could give your student-self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Grasp the opportunities you are given and get involved with activities outside of your studies.
What led you to working at UEA Student Union?
As a student I got involved with various student groups and structures. I was Environmental Office, BME officer and then became Vice-Chair of the Diversity, Equality and Liberation Committee. This developed my interest in Equality, Liberation and Diversity work and policy. I could see that BAME students didn't have the same experiences with their Student Unions or University. This all led me to investigate the attainment gap and how my Student Unions could work to be more open and inclusive to be able to encourage BAME students to get involved and see the benefits and opportunities available to them. When I graduated I then knew I wanted to pursue making a difference at a Students Union level.
Who inspires you?
Black women such as Lizzo, Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, Diane Abbott, Rachel Cargle, Marsai Williams, Doreen Lawrence and Munroe Burgdorf collectively inspire me. The narrative given about black women in society are often negative. Stereotypes about us being too loud, or angry, too aggressive, too "sassy" are labels put on us that we must break down every day. I just think these women have achieved so much despite what society has told them they can and cannot be. They're strong, resilient and powerful.
"Never limit yourself because of others' limited imagination; never limit others because of your own limited imagination" - Mae Jemison
What did you enjoy most about your time at CCCU?
I worked alongside the Students Union on the Diversity, Equality and Liberation Committee. I enjoyed being around a diverse group of people and feeling like I was part of something. When I was elected as BME Officer I had the chance to attend the NUS Black Student Conference which was a significant highlight of my time at University because I was uplifted, recharged and inspired when in a room full of other Black student activists. I also enjoyed the opportunity to talk about the attainment gap and challenge my institution about what they were doing to close the differences in student outcomes.
What is the most important lesson university taught you?
University has taught me perseverance. Black students are affected by various institutional barriers within Universities such as the attainment gap and unconscious biases which then affects engagement.University has taught me to keep pushing and question things
Did you face any challenges? And if so, how did you overcome them?
I did face challenges based on how other perceived how I should be and how I should act. I overcame this by knowing who I am. I’m a black,gay, woman and I will continue to celebrate who I am and have confidence in myself and what I say.
Why do you think Black History Month is important?
There can be a negative narrative about blackness and black people. Black History Month remembers our history and our struggle. But it is important because it also reminds us to embrace the richness of being black and the diversity, culture and joy associated with it. Its about our past, our journey and celebrating the vividness richness of our culture.