Five student’s stories
Five Student’s Stories
The five case studies below were drawn from our SIDUS interviews which focused on the sense of belonging and identity of underrepresented students at Imperial.
The students shared their struggles but also provided some advice to help other students dealing with similar issues (e.g., imposter syndrome, microaggressions, mental health etc.). These materials can be used to raise awareness on the potential impact of social or ethnic backgrounds on their sense of belonging and wellbeing at university. Feel free to share these resources with your students, for example during a tutorial session or workshop.
The case studies yield insight into different student experiences including:
3 colour block
1. Asking for help
“I felt like I wasn't good enough to be there. And initially, everyone's struggling … I was not getting as high [a] grade as I was used to getting. And that was probably something that did kind of almost alarm me. […] That competitive environment, it can be isolating, but I found that Imperial has great support system.”
2. Being hyper-underrepresented
“You can’t really hide the fact that you’re Black. And no matter how well you’ve done, people will always, that’s the first thing they see. It has impacted my experience … no Black lecturers … 15 Black people in my year … I feel like, say, for example, [if] there were 40 Black people in my year, I would have felt a lot more comfortable, and my experience would have been very different in terms of how much I’ve been able to come out of my shell.”
3. Disrupting competitive learning environments
“I had a lab partner who was explaining something to someone else and when I asked him to repeat it, he was like, oh, you wouldn’t understand it. And that completely shattered my confidence when it came to labs. […] I deserved to be in position as much as anyone else and I worked so hard to get here, that it’s like no one can really tell me that I won’t understand something or I won’t fit here. Or make me feel like that, because I won’t let them”
4. Managing work-life balance and changing academic cultures
“…a hindrance at times … unless you're at the very top of the class, you'll always be comparing yourself to people who have got better grades than you or are achieving these things. And that can demoralise you and make things even worse for you … a lot of people are just very committed, and that's made a culture where people are just being too competitive.”