The University of Kent and Kent Union have announced the winners of the annual Kent Student Awards, via a video live-stream broadcast to all students via the University’s YouTube channel.
Whilst usually an in-person special event, the COVID-19 lockdown led to changes being made so as to still celebrate the outstanding efforts of Kent’s students throughout 2020.
With the event beginning at 3pm on Monday 20 July, the ceremony was hosted by Karen Cox, Vice Chancellor and President of the University; Sasha Langeveldt, President of Kent Union; and Gavin Esler, Chancellor of the University.
Viewing students, staff and members of the University community were treated to speeches from the hosts, congratulating all students on their efforts and achievements of the year, overcoming new challenges and lockdown boundaries, as each winner was announced.
The winners of the Kent Student Awards 2020 were:
Outstanding Contribution to Media and the Arts
Nathan Keates, for running improvisation classes and bringing people of different backgrounds and age groups together in the community. In doing this, he has shown the merit and uniqueness among student projects.
The T24 Drama Society, which had six shows each term in 2019, donating £300 to charities such as East Bridge Hospital in Canterbury and the Roald Dahl foundation, with upcoming donations to Mind and a local LGBTQ+, in addition to providing stage experience to those with none.
Outstanding Contribution to the Community
British Red Cross On Campus: UKC, for developing the welfare hubs project on the Canterbury campus, delivering peer to peer welfare hubs at University events. Since the Summer Ball, the project has trained 30 Kent Safe Mate volunteers in basic physical and mental health First Aid.
Elena Ilia and Libby Kane, for further developing the university-based charity UKC STAR (Student Action for Refugees), whose aim is to help refugees by spreading awareness of the issues facing refugees and asylum seekers, and coordinating volunteers to help on projects.
Outstanding Contribution to Sports Development
Charles Dabbs, for his role as President of the Ice Hockey club this year and contributing to the development of the club and sport in general at Kent. He has helped to reorganise the structure of the Ice Hockey Club, in a way that has provided new opportunities for student athletes.
Molly Walsh, for leading the lifting group Kent Barbell to have Kent’s first ever Olympic Weightlifting team, with Molly herself spending her own time and considerable effort to qualify as a British Weightlifting coach to help the club.
Outstanding Contribution to Sustainability
Yasmin Ali, who has made significant contributions to sustainability action at the University. Yasmin has been committed to leading student engagement on social justice and sustainability issues, spearheading awareness-raising on the links between colonialism and the climate emergency as well as facilitating climate activism through creating “DeCO2”. Yasmin is also a co-founder of the Swish Society, encouraging grassroots action against fast fashion in Canterbury.
Carolyn Postlethwaite, as the first elected Sustainability Network Chair where she has organised events and supported initiatives in sustainability, including; Sustainability Network Nights, a Network coffee morning and a week of events related to climate action. Carolyn’s efforts contributed significantly to Kent’s sustainability, and she is expanding plans to care for Kent’s campus wildlife.
Outstanding Contribution to Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity
Christine Bishop, as Class and School Rep, has listened to the student voice and liaised with Kent Business School to ensure concerns and ideas are always addressed. She has supported Academic Peer Mentoring for others throughout the University experience and has campaigned for the school to employ a student support officer for BAME students.
Lama Jaghjougha, for recognising the vulnerability of immigrant and refugee women, even more so for those wearing the hijab, leading to her establishing the initiative (RWAN – Raise Women’s Awareness Network); supporting and encouraging immigrant and refugee women in their goals of further study, training and employment.
Outstanding Contribution to Student Voice
Kester Campbell, who has played a huge part in representing the student voice as the Biomedical Student Rep for his 1st and 2nd year and now in his final year is the Biosciences School Rep. His continual commitment in being a liaison with academic staff has helped many students through their academic journey.
Loveness Williams, who has supported fellow students, advocating for their rights and concerns as their Student Rep. Her efforts in supporting one another fostered unity and togetherness amongst the whole group and she has fulfilled her role with a high level of professionalism and dedication, finding a way to encourage everyone.
Young Europeans, which signed up over 500 new members to their mailing list at the 2019/20 academic year, helping to create a community of pro-European students. Most recently the society organised a European solidarity march on 31 January to show the European staff and students at the University of Kent that they are welcome, helping to support those feeling isolated during the Brexit process.
Outstanding Contribution to Fundraising
Kent Islamic Society, which raised £14,524 to fund a variety of different international projects such as cancer treatment and care in Gaza, constructing schools and providing access to education in Niger, Afghanistan and the Middle East and providing emergency aid to Syria, Sudan and Southern Africa. This campaign pushed students out of their comfort zone to learn new skills.
Kent Uni Boob Team, who have put of a range of events stressing the importance of getting to know your body in order to detect early signs of breast cancer in a climate where young people are often ignored and deemed too young to have breast cancer. The team have been a vital part of spreading the message of breast cancer awareness, having collaborated with multiple sports teams and societies to give a fifteen minute talk at the beginning of events. The team has raised over £2000 this year.
Outstanding Contribution to Academic Communities
Economics Society, whose aim this year has been to engage students with economics outside lectures, running weekly meetings on various topics within economics and arranging social events. The society has organised an Economics Summit and a trip to Frankfurt (to visit the European Central Bank as well as the European financial district). The summit has sold nearly 150 tickets, with various economic experts scheduled to speak on some of the biggest issues facing our decade.
Mooting & Mock Trial Clerks, Nicole Bolick and Nathaly Andreou, who have arranged 10 full Crown Court Trials (involving 200 student jurors, professional judges and actor witnesses), external moot competitions as well as the internal mooting programme. They had to arrange and co-ordinate the student judges and mentored the teams, co-ordinating 80 students. These co-curricular activities are vital to the law school’s curriculum and for the experience of students.
The Mike Oliver Award for Improving Accessibility
Paul-Georg Ender, who has helped in preventing the need for retrospective adjustments. This includes both the physical and digital spaces at Kent, such as evaluating tactile bumpers that the library will install on their steps and providing user feedback on Moodle and Blackboard Ally software, which are key to the student experience. Paul has engaged with this so much that he has launched initiatives of his own such as suggesting the creation of a tactile 3D map of the campus. This has now led to the creation of a PhD project in the School of Architecture.
Krysia Waldock, who organised Kent’s first ever Autism Pride event on 1 September. The event raised awareness of autism in general; raising awareness of autism support services provided at the University of Kent; providing a forum for information and discussion for autistic people in the region.
Student of the Year
The University and Kent Union were delighted to announce Paul-Georg Ender as 2020 Student of the Year, for his outstanding efforts in improving accessibility on campus and for Kent digitally.
Group of the Year
For their excellent work in supporting international emergency relief efforts to Syria, Sudan and Southern Africa, the Kent Islamic Society has been announced as 2020 Group of the Year.
Professor Karen Cox, Vice Chancellor and President of Kent, welcomed viewers, saying: ‘Many congratulations to our finalists and to our winners and I hope you enjoy this event. Each finalist gets a certificate and recognition of the achievement on their Higher Education Achievement Report and winners will also get the achievement cemented into the very ground of our University campus in Canterbury, with an engraved brick in the Footsteps Path.’
Sasha Langeveldt, President of Kent Union said: ‘Congratulations to everyone who has won an award this year and congratulations to the finalists as well. Despite the challenges, you have been resilient, passionate, as well as dedicated to making change. It is amazing to the see the work that has been done, both locally, as well as internationally.’
Gavin Esler, Chancellor of Kent said: ‘I’m delighted to say that under these quite extraordinary circumstances there has been some truly great work done in the awards. There are so many outstanding candidates that it’s been a pleasure.’