Meet our ChangeMaker Student Fellows for 2021/22
Anahita Aman, BA History
Hi, my name is Anahita and I am currently pursuing the BA History programme at UCL. My career aspirations lie in the spheres of international socio-political affairs and sustainable development. I believe that my understanding of the past informs my sense of the present, equipping me to critically engage with complex challenges confronting the world today. I am particularly passionate about tracing the historical rootedness of contemporary tensions - acknowledging forces of colonialism, war, revolution and power, which propelled modern state-formations, protest movements, economic trajectories, geo-political, religious and socio-cultural conflicts.
The ethos of the ChangeMakers Project deeply appeals to me – enabling me to directly shape education at UCL to benefit students from diverse backgrounds, whilst drawing upon my own experiences as an international student from India. I am keen on working on the Change Agents Network conference as it combines my academic interests with my passion for event-organisation and management, raising crucial questions about the future of educational development, governance and policy-making.
Through this role, I hope to gain in-depth exposure and practical work experience in the education sector, honing my soft skills and forging meaningful, long-lasting interpersonal connections. I hope to contribute to crucial transformations at the institutional level, with an emphasis on fairness, inclusivity and equality, whilst growing both personally and professionally.
Arthur Davis, PhD student
I am most interested in working to strengthen learning communities and belonging, as well as encouraging more authentic and inclusive assessment. The projects I would like to take on include, among others, the Learning Lab, the Arena Programme Review, and the CAN conference. I am driven by the idea of helping to foster a more open and collaborative academic community.
This role will offer me invaluable experience conducting quality enhancement projects in academic settings, as well as enabling me to deepen my knowledge of the internal functioning of UCL. I want to see the development of more active and authentic partnerships between staff and students. Excessively hierarchical departmental and interdepartmental structures – where they still exist – stifle trust, creativity, and academic growth.
Floarea Iacobescu, BA Linguistics
Through my ChangeMakers Student Fellow role, I would love to contribute to the way students at our university are taught and assessed, and ensure that engaging methods are employed for learning, and an authentic, inclusive, and diverse mode of assessment is implemented, with enough flexibility to cater for students’ needs. I am also curious and excited to involve myself within the events the university is going to organise, and learn to work alongside staff, and create an enjoyable working environment that produces positive outcomes.
From my role as a student fellow, I hope to gain some behind-the-scenes insights of how our members of staff put everything together in order to make “the machinery” work, hands on experience of what it is like to be in a work environment in the educational field, and networking opportunities with like-minded people that wish to bring change and improve the quality of education of future generations.
Karmel Mohanty, PG Education
I am currently studying for my NASENCO – National Award for Special Educational Needs Coordination. I have always been passionate about accessibility and inclusivity and work in a secondary school overseeing the provision for pupils with additional needs. This course will help me to understand how to better support the pupils I work with. I would like to continue teaching in secondary school and hopefully pursue further research into disability and education. I’d love to see the school teaching networks I’m involved in (for disabled teachers, and teachers who are interested in more inclusive teaching for students with additional needs) continue to grow and develop as teachers make their classrooms more inclusive for students and staff.
From my own experience as a disabled and parent student, and also as a working student, I understand some of the challenges of juggling family, education and work. I am keen to help to make UCL a more accessible place to learn, work with others and socialise, particularly for those students who may also find this a challenge.
I love to meet students from different disciplines and get to know people across the university. I’m looking forward to learning more about how we can use the systems and channels we already have, to make UCL more accessible and improve the learning experience for all students.
Kiruri Wahome, MSc Security Studies
I am doing MSc Security Studies – I work in the security sector and therefore this course was a natural choice for me. I plan to go back to Kenya after my studies and apply acquired skills and knowledge to become a more proficient security professional, consultant and leader.
I am excited about the Media Pods as creating video content is something I enjoy doing. With UCL hosting the Change Agents Network (CAN) Conference this year, I am looking forward to working with my colleagues, staff, and the other stakeholders to make the event a success. As an international student, I am keen on projects that support international students at UCL.
Being a ChangeMakers Fellow will allow me to expand my professional network as the role entails working with multiple professionals across disciplines, departments and further and higher education institutions. Working in a leading global university will also enhance my problem solving, analytical and interpersonal skills. UCL is a great university, it offers loads of opportunities for academic, personal and career development. Given a chance, I would scale up support for international students to assist them make a smoother transition to studying in London.
Lady Barrios Silva, PhD student
I am particularly interested in contributing to projects for developing a 'Learning Community', the Change Agent network conference, UCL Education conference and the new Learning Lab. My personal interests lie on mental health in academia and empowerment of different student communities to thrive in their professional development without loosing their identity. I always felt like part of a bigger community that has a worldwide impact and this gave me confidence as a professional. I am grateful to be part of a university that is part of wider student collaboration programmes such as the London Interdisciplinary Doctoral programme (LIDo) which I am part of.
I would like to gain project management and critical evaluation skills, experience in the practical terms of inclusion and diversity, presentation and public speaking, and finally I would also like to expand professional and social networks.
Molly Edwards, BA Education Studies
I am really interested in the CAN conference, as I really like the idea of universities coming together and sharing their knowledge to improve student experience. I have benefitted so much from student involvement initiatives at UCL, so I think the CAN conference is an amazing event I would like to be part of organising. I am also really interested in assessment, and how we can improve practices around assessment for students and lecturers. As a student rep at UCL, it seems assessment comes up a lot as a point of contention, and I would like to work on resolving some of the issues that lecturers and students might have around assessment practices.
I would really like to work on the meaningful projects that are available for student fellows to get involved in. Along the way, I would like to meet people who are passionate about improving/expanding on aspects of UCL, and hopefully work with some of them. I think this role could also give me opportunities to try new things and learn from the experiences I would not have had without being a student.
I am proud of getting involved in and taking advantage of some of the opportunities UCL has to offer. I have really enjoyed the roles I have taken on, such as Lead Department Rep, ChangeMaker, Student Ambassador, and Co-President of the Education Society. I like being a friendly face around campus, specifically at the IOE. I am proud to have a group of people that support me in those roles, as I do not think my experience would have been as much fun without them.
Poppy Simpson, MSc Global Health and Development
Having worked for a health focused NGO during my undergraduate degree, I developed a passion for global health. One of my main goals is to develop a career in healthcare consultancy within an International Organisation that works to deliver sustainable, effective, and equitable access healthcare to communities both in developed countries and low and middle-income countries.
The core projects that I am particularly interested in, the Change Agents Network, Champion student engagement work within the Institute of Global Health, UCL Education conference and the Evaluation of the Academic support hub. In addition, I also thoroughly enjoyed reviewing population project applications. In terms of my own interests, I am particularly interested in strengthening careers and employability service, disabilities service and student-wellbeing services. I am proud to be part of the UCL community, I am also immensely proud of the strong connections and relationships I have formed.
I am hoping to develop skills in monitoring & evaluation, project management as well as establishing a solid network of contacts, whether that be with my line manager, other ChangeMaker fellows as well as connections within the Institute of Global Health. I would liek to explore how to strengthen UCL’s careers and employability partnerships with external partners and employers to ensure international students receive adequate, sustainable post-graduate careers and visa support and equal career opportunities.
Ola Gomaa, MA Education Technology
Education technology has already started to rise as a promising career. Part of what I do is; instructional designs for educational and business courses and designing digital simulations for corporates. I became more interested in understanding the methodologies behind it. I have been working in both formal and non-formal education sectors for over eight years now. Most of my experience is in learning and development, instructional design, simulation development, research and development, teaching, and education consulting.
I am keen to collaborate with UCL staff and assist in advancing the learning communities in UCL. People come to UCL from all over the world aspiring to have the best Education and Educational environment as well as an unforgettable learning opportunity. I am very passionate and active about creating change and impacting my community in a better way through spreading awareness and mobilizing youth in both local and international communities. Through this collaboration, we aim to reshape the learning communities and assist all UCL students to navigate their academic experience seamlessly.
I am a sustainability activist and I love promoting and spreading awareness about it as well as integrating it into Education. I have so many volunteering activities in the field of Education for sustainable development. This passion is what led me to work with the ChangeMakers’ team because through these projects we can work on so many issues such as inclusivity, quality education, gender equality, empowerment and so much more!
Stephanie Cunningham, BA History
I am particularly interested in working on core projects such as the Change Agents Network, the Arena Programme Review project and the evaluation of the Academic Support Hub. I also enjoy reviewing project applications. In terms of my own interests, I am particularly interested in building on current UCL careers service provisions and improving messaging to students regarding employability, as well being involved in event management projects. I am hoping to develop skills in policy evaluation and analysis as well as in project management. I also hope to further develop my collaboration and teamworking skills through working with a diverse group of fellow students, faculty and Arena staff.
I would like to build a stronger sense of student community and belonging on both a departmental level and on a university-wide scale. For example, by strengtheninig UCL’s careers and employability partnerships with external partners and employers to ensure international students receive adequate, sustainable post-graduate careers and visa support and equal career opportunities.
Thu Thu, PhD student
I am a PhD researcher at the UCL Institute of Education. My research interests fit broadly within the fields of education policy analysis and sociology of education; more specifically, on neoliberal policies and the work of governing in education, global networks and ‘edu-businesses’. My current work draws on Foucauldian tools and concepts to explore the emergence of the private ‘international’ education landscape in Myanmar (which is also where I’m from). I am also the founder of the UCL Policy Studies Research Network, which continues to flourish, and a PGTA on the BA Education Studies programme.
In combining my experiences at UCL as a previous undergraduate student, current postgraduate research student as well as Postgraduate Teaching Assistant, I am able to reflect on the teaching and learning at UCL from multiple perspectives and offer a bridging role to consider the perspectives of both students and staff. Through the ChangeMakers Student Fellow role, I am interested in contributing to projects that have a direct impact on students’ learning experiences (e.g., the Arena programme review) as well as that of creating further opportunities for student-staff partnerships (e.g., the Learning Lab).
Alongside this, I also hope to gain insight into UCL’s institutional processes and extend my networks among staff and students. I also aim to develop my skills of working within a team while taking ownership of my work and make a positive impact on aspects of education at UCL. All in all, I have really felt welcome and supported as a member of the UCL community throughout my time here and would like to do my small part in supporting and sustaining this for current and future members of our community.
Tonja Nguyen, MSc Statistics
I am most interested in working on student engagement both in my faculty and on the wider institutional level as well. Education undergoing a transition currently, as we are analysing the advantages and disadvantages of in-person and online teaching. It is clear that many of changes will be implemented in the following years, so it is more important now than ever to involve students and get them engaged in these decision-making processes. It is crucial that the student voice gets heard, as the only way to shape future education in a way that actually benefits students is to invite them to the discussions and not make it a top-down decision.
I am hoping to gain experience with working in the ‘non-academia’ side of higher education, and I would like to get more insight into decision making processes. I also want to extend my network by getting to know the wider UCL Education & Student Experience team and the other Student Fellows. I would like to improve my leadership, communication, and teamwork skills as well by undertaking various projects as part of this role.