More than a number
Anyone who knows me has heard this story a thousand times. When I first visited Lincoln as a prospective student, I saw the cathedral and I cried. I knew instantly that this is where I needed to be, this was going to be my home - at least for the next few years.
Now, as we are going into 2020, almost 5 years later, I am still here and still in love with the city. However, as a Black female here, I have not been free from issues – including racism, sexism and sense of belonging which is something I know many face.
My focus throughout my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees have always been around EDI. These values became more apparent to me when I became the Students Union BAME officer. In this position I learned even more the importance of EDI, especially in higher education. I became more attuned to the issues within the higher education sector for BAME students and wanted to make a difference.
As the current Student Engagement and Experience Graduate Intern based in the College of Social Science, my role this year is to understand differential attainment specifically in regards to BAME students. To me, understanding and reducing attainment differences is the product of understanding the students themselves. I think it is important to understand the student experience which can open our eyes to why there is differential attainment. Understanding this enables focus on the changes that are needed to enhance the student experience which consequently will help reduce the attainment gap. My initiative, ‘More Than a Number’ aims to highlight to staff and students that BAME students are more than just numbers in facts and figures, their lived experiences are important. I created a handbook that discusses these lived experiences to showcase the student experience academically and socially.
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change, I am changing the things I cannot accept”- Angela Davis.
This quote inspires me to continue this work around EDI. I am now in a position where I can contribute and enhance the environment that made me feel so at home, with the hopes of creating the same for students both current and prospective that will help them to succeed and university and beyond, this quote inspires me to continue this work.
Rhianne Sterling-Morris, Student Engagement and Experience Graduate Intern, College of Social Science