Meet the winner: Kerensa Gaunt
Kerensa Gaunt is an undergraduate student in Modern and Medieval Languages at Fitzwilliam College, who has recently won a Vice-Chancellor’s Social Impact Award.
One of her nominators presented her inspiring social action journey in detail:
“Rensa has enacted social change in Cambridge, to an extent far exceeding any other student I have encountered in my 9 years at the University. This encompasses disability and other social justice activism within her college, department, the wider university, city and beyond.
Within her college Rensa has focused on ensuring every aspect of college life is accessible, by campaigning for building alterations as well as making information more accessible (e.g. by creating a library guide). She is working alongside her JCR and college staff to create a disability access focused open day.
In the MML faculty Rensa has pushed for change to improve the attainment gap for disabled students. She has sat on the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee within her faculty, to this end. Rensa has also worked as a student researcher on the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning’s Access and Participation Plan.
Within CUSU, Rensa was the first officer elected to represent part time students. She has been invaluable in promoting awareness of Double Time study, both by writing a guide, holding social events and helping individual students. Rensa was also crucial in the formation of the Accessibility Pledge which increases accessibility of the university and wider city to disabled students. Rensa has been a student rep for numerous committees.
In the city more widely Rensa has run several years of food bank donations and shelter collections. Her college has now permanently established both these things. She has also worked on social justice outside of Cambridge — for example volunteering with asylum seekers and raising money for a women’s shelter on her year abroad.
Rensa has been crucial to the achievement of a staggering level of social change in her time at Cambridge, and I truly believe that she should be recognised for this immense achievement.”
When asked about her greatest achievement, Kerensa highlighted the importance of her work within the part time student’ role at CUSU:
“We’ve gone from students only being able to go part time through a whisper network of students who knew other part time students personally, to students and staff making sure that *I* knew about it as they had heard about it or read the online guide (which I wrote!). We have regular socials, and have massively raised awareness within the student body as to the opportunities available to them. I’ve met with senior university staff and I am very proud to say that I have supported dozens if not hundreds of students over my time. I have fought for the necessary support to be available by default, not just for those with confidence and connections.”
Upon receiving the award, Kerensa expressed her gratitude to everyone who worked with her throughout her social action journey.