Follow Their Lead Exhibition

 When we asked previous and current Christ Church students what they thought of Black History Month they expressed mixed views. Most thought it was a shame the month needed to exist at all, but as it does, that it is important we use it to positive ends. And that is why this year we are celebrating the successes of BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) Christ Church students, both past and present.

 Check out our online and poster exhibition to find out what they are doing, what they think of Black History Month and what advice they have for current students.

Zita

My name is Zita and I am a third-year Law student at Canterbury Christ Church University.

"Question everything; although I might have an initial opinion about something, university has taught me to question, search and then check if that opinion is still the same or has changed. "

Why did you Study Law? 

I have chosen to study law because I believe it is an opportunity to challenge injustice in society and apply everyday knowledge with the objective of helping people in need. What I like the most about law is that it is that it is a profession based on the principles of justice and the defence of Human Rights. 

What are you doing now? 

I work as a cleaner to support myself in my studies and I volunteer as a Community Legal Companion (which involves providing individuals with guidance and advice) because this not only provides me with skills for my future career but also it makes me happy to know that I am helping others. This volunteering experience is challenging and enables me to open up more as a person.

If you could give your student-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Never forget your roots no matter what qualifications you might have and what your status in society is. 

Who inspires you? 

My parents. They always remind me and my siblings “Fight the way we did to change our and your lives.” My parents emigrated from Spain when I was a baby to provide us with a better life. Today my siblings spread out across Europe and we keep fighting to change our lives for a better future.  

What did you enjoy most about your time at CCCU?

I enjoy learning and opening my mind to new experiences, cultures and challenges in every single lecture, every single basketball training and every single interaction with other individuals. 

What is the most important lesson university taught you? 

To question everything; although I might have an initial opinion about something, University has taught me to question, search and then check if that opinion is still the same or has changed. 

Did you face any challenges? And if so, how did you overcome them?

Yes, indeed. One of the challenges I have faced when I came to England was learning the language. It has taken me a while to speak confidently as I am a very shy person and that affected my interaction with others. To overcome this, I joined the university basketball team as well as engaging more with my classmates.

Why do you think Black History Month is important? 

Black History Month should never be forgotten because slavery still exists, and we should keep fighting to end it. It is important because it reminds me what our ancestors went through for me to be where I am today. It is important because it reminds me that unity is strength and that strength leads us to achieve things that one individually sees impossible. However, I think it is so important that it should be remembered every single day of the year.

Yeside

My name is Yeside Fawehinmi and last month I graduated with a 2:1 in Multimedia Journalism. 

"No matter what you choose to do in life, do yourself justice and do it well."

What are you doing now?

I will be starting an MA in International Relations and I’m currently working part time at BT.

What led you to working at BT?  

BT is a premium brand with excellent career opportunities and fast progression if you work hard.

If you could give your student-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

No matter what you choose to do in life, do yourself justice and do it well.

What did you enjoy most about your time at CCCU?

I was interested in the subject and CCCU is such a diverse place full of rich cultures and I especially enjoyed meeting people from different walks of life on my course.

What is the most important lesson university taught you?

No matter how tough it gets, you’ll get to the finish line. If you believe it - you can do it!

Did you face any challenges? And if so, how did you overcome them?

It was ridiculously difficult to commute from South-East London to Canterbury four times a week and it began to take a toll on me. Moving here actually not only made Uni life easier but I was less stressed from no longer having to travel back and forth.

 TimiMy name is Durotimi (Timi) and I graduated from CCCU with a PGCE in Citizenship in 2007.

"Keep your mind open. You come into university with your own expectations but the exposure you get can dramatically change your views of the world and can inspire you to do and accomplish great deeds."

Why did you choose to study a PCGE in Citzenship? 

Growing up in a humble neighbourhood in Lagos, Nigeria and seeing the difference education makes in the life of those who had it and the misery in the lives of those who lacked it, I knew if I got educated in spite of my social status, life will really be good. It has turned out to be so. Though I ended up becoming a teacher by chance, I chose to study Citizenship because of its global applicability.

What are you doing now?

I am the Project Director/ CEO of Lagos Schools Online Project, an online platform that provided resources to support teaching and learning. I am combining my experience of teaching and the media to help improve educational standards in Nigeria. 

If you could give your student-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Workload was huge in the university but the outcome makes it worthwhile. It was like everyone felt responsible for the success of others.

What led you to setting up Lagos Schools?  

The queries of Mr Ralp Leighton never left my mind. 98% of Lagos schools did not have online presence when we came on board. We created a web portal that has information on no less than 95% of private and state-owned   schools in Lagos State. We have gone on to scale up  to adding mass and social media to support teaching and learning in Lagos schools.

Who inspires you? 

I was greatly inspired by Mr. Ralph Leighton, my Course Director at CCCU I recall his endless query at every opportunity: “Timi, how’s the education system in Nigeria meeting this or that challenge?” or “Timi, what is the Nigerian equivalent of this process in education”. The common one was: “Timi, don’t you think the Nigerian education system will benefit from what he/she (usually a coursemate) has just said?” He literally drove me to start the Lagos Schools Online. 

What did you enjoy most about your time at CCCU?

The cosmopolitan demography, the incredible diversity and the collaborative atmosphere was thoroughly enjoyed.

What is the most important lesson university taught you?

The most important lesson is that you come through the gates into the university with your own expectations but the exposure you get can dramatically change your views of the world and can inspire you to do and accomplish great deeds. Keep your mind open.

Did you face any challenges? And if so, how did you overcome them?

Workload was huge in the university though but the outcome makes it worthwhile. It was most helpful to have colleagues and a faculty that was cooperative. It was like everyone felt responsible for the success of others.

Why do you think Black History Month is important? 

I believe it is healthy for society that we all understand the histories of all the people in our societies. Blacks and non-blacks will find great value in understanding the issues highlighted by BHM. Misconceptions will be greatly reduced and society will be better for it.

Mahmood

My name is Mahmood and I was awarded master of Surgery in Minimally Invasive Surgery in November 2013.

"Plan your journey towards your goal and your CCCU family will take you there."

Why did you choose to study Surgery? What led you to working in Surgery?

I chose this programme because it matched my background in Surgery. However, my degree pulled together all my previous experience and enabled me to develop a new style in the surgical field. Before my time at CCCU I felt I couldn’t contribute to my field, but today I feel perfectly capable and prepared to operate independently as well as deliver scientific talks on a regular basis.

What are you doing now?

Currently, I am working as a specialist surgeon, pioneering new techniques in minimally invasive surgery in Ramadi, Iraq. 

If you could give your student-self one piece of advice, what would it be? 

My advice to new students is to follow the guidance given by academic staff and do not hesitate to ask them questions. Everyday at CCCU will count toward your future, plan your journey toward your goal and your CCCU family will take you there.

Who inspires you?

During my time at CCCU I met many people who shaped my future. All the staff members I got to know had a significant influence on the way I think and how I approach my goals. All CCCU staff deserve all the respect for what they had done to help me achieve what l have achieved.

What did you enjoy most about your time at CCCU?

I found everything enjoyable at CCCU. The staff were friendly and made things accessible for students. 

Did you face any challenges? And if so, how did you overcome them?

When I returned to Iraq I faced many challenges because of the differences in both society and in the medical system here. However, I keep remembering what I learnt during my studies and this makes me feel confident in myself and the path I am following.  

Why do you think Black History Month is important? 

Black History Month celebrates and represents the diversity of our world. It highlights the contributions ethnic societies and groups make in enriching our world.

Adewumi

My Name is Adewumi. 

"I have learnt that nothing comes easy. However, with hard work and consistency you can achieve anything you set your mind on to achieve."

Do you do anything in addition to studying and if so, what?  

I am a student peer mentor, a cohort representative and a student ambassador at Canterbury Christ Church University. 

Why did you choose to study Mental Health Nursing? 

I choose Mental Health Nursing because of my passion and curiosity to know more about different kind of mental health issues, their causes, treatments and how to manage the illness. I want to be able to create awareness about mental health issues and also contribute to the eradication of stigmatisation of mental illness in my community.

If you could give yourself as a first-year student one piece of advice, what would it be?

My advice will be to be more proactive, manage time well as it is very essential, make more friends within and outside your pathway as this will enhance your knowledge about what other pathways does and improve your collaborative working skills. Above all, I will advise myself to make use of all the university resources, such as the library, Student well-being support and the student learning support.

Who inspires you?

"If you can't fly then run, if you can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.." -  Martin Luther King Jr.  

What do you enjoy most about your time at CCCU? 

What I enjoyed most is the time I spent with my mentees. I volunteered my time to support them. However, I also learnt a lot from each of them.

What is the most important lesson university taught you so far?

I have learnt that nothing comes easy. However, with hard work and consistency you can achieve anything you set your mind on to achieve.

Did you face any challenges? And if so, how did you overcome them? 

I had a relationship breakdown which really affected me emotionally, financially, physically and mentally. However, I sought for support from the university and I was overwhelmed with the kind of support I got from my personal tutor and all the lecturers in the department. I got support from the student well-being and also from my university friends.

Why do you think Black History Month is important? 

Black history is important because it brings back memories. It showcases black people’s achievement and it create more awareness about black people’s origin and culture.

JenniferI studied, BSc Biosciences, with Canterbury Christ Church University and graduated in June 2016.

"Do something when nothing is available, to be the change you want to see"

Why did you choose to study Biosciences? 

I always wanted a career in the health or life sciences sector - this course was a decision that took me a step closer to that aspiration. 

What are you doing now?

I work as a Clinical Research Associate (CRA), with Merck Sharpe and Dohme (MSD), a pharmaceutical company. When I am not working, I spend my time on Wenite, a platform I started that aims to bridge the career gap in science. Wenite maps available career options for students and professionals through video profiles of career pathways and Science focused events. The aim is to inform people about career pathways through engagement and networking. 

If you could give your student-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don't be intimidated to express your self in an environment where you are the only Black person for the fear of being judged! Your skin colour does not define you; work hard and you will earn the respect you deserve. 

What led you to working at Wenite? 

During my time in industry and academia, I always wanted to be part of a community of scientists in the industry that would be happy to offer advice about navigating various career options, within science. Unfortunately, the few that I found were not specific enough to my needs. My hardships, like that of higher education barriers, taught me to do something when nothing is available, to be the change you want to see.

Who inspires you? 

No one in particular. My journey has been a roller-coaster and i cannot compare it to any one person, however, in general i often take inspiration from the achievements of; black individuals, women of any race and young people - because these are all aspects that i face discrimination for in my day to day life.

What did you enjoy most about your time at CCCU?

What you put in is what you get out. Never stop asking why and researching further to understand why something is required.

Did you face any challenges? And if so, how did you overcome them?

Yes, multiple. By speaking up when i felt that i could no longer face them alone, especially when it began to affect my grades and mental health. 

Why do you think Black History Month is important? 

Being black, sometimes means that you are often the only one in your environment trying to achieve a particular target. At times it can sometimes seem impossible. Black history month aims to display and celebrate the achievements and contributions of black individuals to the society and seeing these individuals can be uplifting. 

Jen

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. 

Gloria

My name is Gloria, I'm a first-year student of Human Biology at CCCU.

"Human knowledge is extremely dynamic and constantly changing so keep open mind."

Why did you choose to study Human Biology? 

I chose Human Biology because I've always been passionate about science and wanted to explore how our body works in a deeper way. I'd love to undertake a career that deals with nutrition and wellbeing, and possibly even work in the research field.

What are you doing now?

I'm a professional athlete, I represent my country Italy in the sport of Athletics and alongside my studies I'm preparing for my third Olympics.

If you could give your student-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Never settle for less than what you know you are capable of, even though it might require a bit harder work.

What led you to working as an Athlete? 

It started out as something I did in high school that I was good at and eventually became my profession as I got drafted in a professional club in Italy.

Who inspires you? 

There are many individuals who have had a great influence in my life and been an inspiration and my Dad is one of them. He often tells me "If there is anything that has been accomplished by a human being, you can do it too". So, I never put a limit to what I could potentially achieve.

What did you enjoy most about your time at CCCU?

I really enjoy the learning environment, I love learning just for the sake of it. I find studying and learning deeply satisfying. 

What is the most important lesson university taught you?

That human knowledge is extremely dynamic and constantly changing so I need to always have an open mind. It always amazes me how things we thought to be true then turn out to be not as relevant when you fast forward just few years. 

Did you face any challenges? And if so, how did you overcome them?

I cannot think of any big challenges, things have been going smoothly so far.

Anthony

My name is Anthony and I graduated from a Bsc. in Policing in 2013.

"When the going gets tough the tough don’t always get going, the tough get stuck in"

 Why did you choose to study Policing?

I chose to study Policing for two reasons: My curiosity around the academic aspect of policing and I knew I would be looking to utilise it after I retire from practical policing. 

What are you doing now?

I’m currently a detective with the Met Police as part of the Operation Sapphire Team, a specialist sexual offences, exploitation and child abuse investigation unit.

If you could give your student-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Read more and do more research into your subject matter.

What led you to working in Policing? 

I kind of fell into Policing. I was told years ago that I’d be very good at it and I should go for it.  I did and I’m not too shabby at it. In 2006 I was transferred to Op Sapphire and fell in love with nature and challenge of the work.   

Who inspires you? 

"The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively." - Robert Nesta Marley

“The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively” - Robert Nesta Marley

What did you enjoy most about your time at CCCU?

The travelling back and forth to the campus. I got to enjoy the English countryside. I enjoyed the comradery of the class and teachers and of course the education I obtained from the degree.

What is the most important lesson university taught you?

“When the going gets tough the tough don’t always get going, the tough get stuck in.” 

Did you face any challenges? And if so, how did you overcome them?

I had never written an academic essay before, I overcame it be researching and practising.

Aidan

My name is Aidan and I graduated in 2012 with a Bsc in Sport and Leisure Management.

"You are only restricted by the barriers you create yourself. If you want to achieve something, just go out and do it."

Why did you choose to study Sport and Leisure Management? 

I have always loved sport from a young age and knew I wanted to work in the field, but wasn’t sure exactly where. So this course looked like it would give me a broad set of options upon graduation.

What are you doing now?

I now work for Canterbury Christ Church University as Sport Development Manager, but I have quite a few other roles outside of my day job. I am a Technology Mentor for Kent Football Association which involves supporting local clubs who utilise the FAs digital systems to administrate grassroots football. I am also a member of the Kent FA Council which means I represent the views and opinions of the thousands of people involved in football in Kent. I coach a youth football team in my spare time too.

If you could give your student-self one piece of advice, what would it be?

University is a lot of fun, but make sure you engage fully in all of your lectures, even if you partied a bit too hard the night before! Your exams and assignments will be far easier and will give you better grades at the end of the three years.

What led you to working at Canterbury Christ Church University?  

I was elected by the student body at the end of my final year of study to be Vice President of Christ Church Students’ Union with the remit of sport. This was a full-time paid role which carried responsibility for championing excellence of experience for students involved in sport at the University. This role gave me a great insight into sports development and I fell in love with making sport bigger and better.

After my year in that role, I applied for lots of jobs and had around 12 interviews at some great organisations including three County Football Associations. However I got a job back at the University as Sport Activity Coordinator working on a Sport England funded project for a year. I completed that role successfully achieving the required target numbers and helped apply for further Sport England funding for a new three year project. We were awarded that money and I then applied for and was successfully appointed as PlaySport Coordinator, tasked with managing the successful delivery of this new project. Whilst doing this project, I started a masters in Sport Management which was tricky whilst working full time. But after completing that I was then appointed Sport Development Manager at CCCU!

Who inspires you? 

"Find the good. It’s all around you. Find it, showcase it and you’ll start believing in it." - Jess Owens

What did you enjoy most about your time at CCCU?

I really enjoyed playing for the University football team. Wednesdays were my favourite day of the week, spending time with teammates and battling on the pitch for each other against other Universities and representing CCCU. This was always followed with a team social which was some of the best memories of my time at University. I still see my friends from football regularly and they will be friends for life.

What is the most important lesson university taught you?

You are only restricted by the barriers you create yourself. If you want to achieve something, just go out and do it. You may have to work harder than the next person has had to to achieve the same thing, but if that’s what you need to do to achieve your dreams… just do it! Hard work always pays off eventually!

Did you face any challenges? And if so, how did you overcome them?

I missed the first few lectures of my first year which meant I struggled to integrate with the group on my course. This was due to me not knowing my timetable until a few days into term. I ended up not passing a couple of modules so had to repeat the following year. However I made a concerted effort to make sure I engaged fully in the opening lectures when repeating those modules the next year. This meant I was able to get better with my new course mates and had a much better year academically.

Why do you think Black History Month is important? 

I think it is important to celebrate the achievements of black people in lieu of the struggles that have been endured throughout history and still today.

 

 

 

 

 

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Last edited: 30/10/2019 12:19:00