Posted Monday 5 June 2023
The achievements of dozens of mentors and mentees who have taken part in this year's Beyond Barriers programme were celebrated at Kingston University's award-winning Town House building.
The event, opened by Provost Professor Helen Laville, saw students, staff and industry experts who've been involved in the scheme share their experiences of working with each other, as well as the awarding of the prestigious mentor and mentee of the year awards.
Beyond Barriers is a six-month programme run for students from under-represented groups to help them reach their full potential. The mentors come from a wide variety of industries, and this year two thirds were professionals who have themselves graduated from Kingston University.
Among them were alumna and mentor Navshika Beeharry, who reflected on her experience mentoring psychology and sociology student Sophia Messam. "I signed up to be a mentor because when I studied here, I came from an underrepresented background and wanted to help today's students overcome some of the challenges I faced," she said. "Even though my mentee was from a different course to the one I studied, I found that so many of the lessons I learned were transferable and I've enjoyed helping support Sophia and watching her confidence grow."
Anand Tuse, a management in construction student, praised his mentor Monica Chandran, a Kingston University engineering graduate, for helping him get ready for life after studying. "Having Monica as a mentor has not only given me so much knowledge but also motivated me to achieve things I didn't think were possible," he said. "The one-to-one sessions I received through Beyond Barriers have made the process of adapting from growing up in India to studying in the UK so much easier. Monica was always there when I needed and her mentoring has really taught how to be more professional and organised."
The mentor and mentee awards were won by Marlene Kennedy, a former teacher, and illustration animation student Lucius Strauss respectively. Mentors and mentees had the opportunity to nominate their counterpart for the award before a panel of Kingston University staff decided on the final winners.
During the event Robert O'Dowd, Chief Executive of The Rose Theatre in Kingston, was recognised with a special award for completing a decade as a mentor on the Beyond Barriers programme. His latest mentee, interior design student Folusho Rufai, has gained valuable experience designing sets at the theatre and will be helping design the iconic Bentall Centre Christmas display in Kingston town centre later this year.
Jo Dallal, Head of Higher Education, Counselling and Early Years at Kingston College was also recognised at the event for her long-running contribution to Beyond Barriers.
Those in attendance heard from Kingston University's Student Development and Graduate Success Director Ali Orr about the University's sector-leading Future Skills programme before enjoying a buffet and drinks reception on the top floor of the Town House building.