This is the first blog in a new ‘day in the life’ series from KCL’s Diversity Digest blog. In this new feature we will go behind the scenes, getting to know our Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Team and find out more about their work.
Our latest ‘day in the life’ feature comes from Sophie Rust (she/her) an EDI Project Officer.
My name is Sophie Rust and my pronouns are she/her. I’m an EDI Project Officer and I’ve been in the role for over a year now – time flies! Before starting in EDI I worked with lovely colleagues in the Careers & Employability Team. I worked for a charity previously and my (sort of) claim to fame is being the first employee of the now quite successful startup, Huel.
I came to King’s as my friend, and now colleague in Arts & Humanities, Flo Cowan, told me it was a really nice place to work. She wasn’t wrong! King’s is full of hard working and creative people, who are kind and always ready to help. I’ve had a fantastic time working here, most of it during the pandemic where MS Teams became our new best friend. Shout out to my then manager in Careers Charles Kasule for getting us up to speed on Teams well before we really needed it – that was excellent timing!
EDI has always been an interest for me before it became a job. My work in a human rights charity touched on equality in relation to cases before the European Court of Human Rights. When I was in Careers, an important question for me was how we can increase the number of students from underrepresented backgrounds in co-curricular programmes such as the King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowship scheme. I also worked with Gya Niyazi to ringfence a percentage of the Student Opportunity Fund specifically for Black students to address the specific disadvantages Black graduates face including the awarding gap and in graduate outcomes. This eventually led me to apply for a position in the EDI team and I’ve not looked back.
Every day is different in this role. I also split my time between the EDI team and the Faculty of Arts & Humanities which mixes things up nicely. I might be delivering some microaggressions training in the morning, and attending a Faculty Diversity & Inclusion Committee meeting in the afternoon, where we will be hearing from each department about different initiatives. I might be attending the Athena Swan Delivery Team meeting and taking notes on the implementation of gender equality actions, then I’ll be taking time to research disability inclusion best practice.
I think one of the things I enjoy most about my role is engaging with staff and students. I had the privilege last year of supporting MA Philosophy student Ursula Blythe with a seminar series entitled Dis/ability & Dialogue. I learnt so much from hearing Ursula speak about activism and philosophy and the lived experience of disability. The four-part seminar series was grant-funded by the Arts & Humanities Diversity & Inclusion Grant which supports a number of local staff and student-led projects. It’s a pleasure to see the impact of these projects and the variety of activities undertaken.
For International Women’s Day this year former student and Head of the Poetry Soc Karen Ng read a poem that she had composed based on visions of a more equal world contributed on our padlet by the King’s community. The poem was incredible, and you can read and listen to it here. I was lucky to be involved in the organisation of this event, which also welcomed Aleida Borges from the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership to speak about the Institute’s work and her own research on women’s grassroots leadership. It’s amazing to get to work with staff and students from all over King’s.
Something I love about the EDI team is how collaborative it is. We don’t all work on the same projects, and considering the Projects and Partnerships Team are also based in faculties, we are sometimes quite separate. That’s why it’s great to come together for our weekly team meeting to brainstorm ideas, and get feedback on our work. We share best practice from our faculties, and I find bouncing ideas off the team always helps. We check in on our wellbeing and give each other feedback and praise. It’s a lovely ritual and I recommend including it in your team meetings if you can.
When there is a pause in the day, I might be found drinking a coffee outside of the Terrace Café (Macadam Building) – a place I only discovered recently as I started to venture more to campus. You get a lovely view of the Thames. As you can see in this picture it was so sunny I had my sunglasses on!
In my spare time, I’m learning German at the Modern Languages Centre and I’ve started bouldering. Both are great stress-relievers as you can’t think about anything else whilst you are doing them!