Posted Thursday 2 November 2023
Kingston University's ELEVATE careers programme, which supports students of Black heritage to achieve their full potential, celebrated an important milestone at an event hosted at its flagship building, the Town House.
Staff, students, alumni and business partners were invited to mark the programme's three-year anniversary at the Penrhyn Road campus where the University welcomed guest speakers and graduates who have gone on to found their own businesses.
Run by the University's careers and employability service, ELEVATE was named best widening participation initiative of the year in 2022 at the National Undergraduate Employability Awards, having also won the accolade for best diversity, equality and inclusion programme at the Global Careers Summit in its first year.
Launching the anniversary event was the University's Provost, Professor Helen Laville, who emphasised the important work being done through ELEVATE to help equip students with skills beyond the classroom and the significance of inclusivity as a form of social justice. Professor Laville also spoke about how inclusivity feeds directly into the University's core values and its ambitions through the Town House Strategy.
Kingston University graduates Ali Saad, who studied MSc Forensic Analysis, and Clive Sowah who studied MSc Pharmaceutical Analysis then shared the story of how the mission of achieving racial equity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) inspired them to found networking and mentoring business Vanta STEM, emphasising the value of communicating and strategising to overcome setbacks.
The third guest speaker was Lenna Cumberbatch, who has worked as an EDI strategist during the past 25 years across the UK, Europe and the United States within corporate, education and health settings. Ms Cumberbatch shared her journey from childhood to adulthood and how she has strived to play her part towards racial equity and equality through transformative collaborations.
Launched in 2020, ELEVATE set out to address disparities in the degree awarding gap and graduate outcomes between Black and White students. It provides mentorship and professional development opportunities for Black British African, Caribbean, and mixed heritage students, alongside supporting partner employers in taking tangible steps towards achieving racial equity.
The pioneering programme is part of the University's Centre for Graduate Success, which last year secured funding from the Mohn Westlake Foundation, a foundation that aims to make a difference to the lives of young people by providing opportunities they may not otherwise have had, through education, performing arts, or other activities, which has inspired positive change and empowered more than 400 Black students at Kingston University.
The success of programmes such as ELEVATE were central to ensuring all students at the University had equal opportunities to thrive in their future careers, Ali Orr, Director of Student Development and Graduate Success, said. "Equipping our students not only with the academic knowledge and skills required for their discipline, but also with business acumen, confidence and the ability to problem solve and think creatively will help ensure they are able to meet the changing needs of employers," he said.
"ELEVATE was born from the passion to put inclusivity at the forefront of this activity and we are delighted to have helped support and empower several hundred students in the first three years of this work."
The accelerator programme provides employability networking opportunities, paid internships, placements and jobs and bespoke career support through the programmes partner organisations such as GSK, Tesco and Coca Cola. This holistic approach empowers students to build meaningful connections and launch their careers with confidence.