Kirsten on a multi-cultural campus
My name is Kirsten Perkins and I am the Liberation Committee Chair for the 2018/19 academic year. When I first came to university, the biggest fear I had was the prospect of not being able to make any friends. Being an ethnic minority from London, my view of universities such as Exeter, was of a majority white campus, made up of students from privileged backgrounds, who I’d have nothing in common with. Also, moving to Cornwall was a large cultural shift from a city, and I greatly feared the local community and thought I would stand out immensely. However, the first society I joined at university was the African-Caribbean Society, which greatly helped me gain friends from a variety of backgrounds, and helped me feel more accepted and comfortable in a space which I was not familiar with. I was able to celebrate my culture and find a space that I could relate to, which overall gave me more confidence to exist on campus and socialise with people in every space. I also joined the Politics Society, which was great for me as I am a Politics and International Relations student, and helped me engage in political activities outside my course, and socialise with people who had similar academic and social interests to me.
Before I knew it, I was so involved in the Students' Union societies that I ran for two elections in my first year, becoming very engaged with FXU. This gave me skills and invaluable experience that I used in job interviews outside of university, and also helped me feel very integral to the community on campus. My life in second year has completely revolved around FXU: being part of two society committees and the BAME Officer. I was able to organise events I’ve always wanted to attend at university, and even trips, and in doing so felt very useful and engaged in life on campus. I was able to continue to grow my social circle, and the staff at the Students' Union also became a support system, allowing me to feel very comfortable at University.
Having gone from someone who completely dreaded the country life in Cornwall, to someone who has become a dedicated member of the Students' Union, and therefore an active university student, I have FXU and my friends to thank for helping me feel comfortable in an unknown space. It has also given me multiple employability skills which puts me a step ahead of other students in the job world, as FXU has given me opportunities for professional leadership training as well as awards that have boosted my employability confidence.