Breaking through: From History of Art and Design studies to History teaching

BA History of Art and Design student, Hannah Kempster, reflects on the value that a breakthrough prize has had for her confidence and career development.

I was very excited to find out that I had won the Anne Clements Breakthrough Award for my grades during the second year of my History of Art and Design degree. I hadn’t been aware of the award in advance, so I was extremely surprised to find out that I had won it. I loved the second year of the course and had wonderful experiences such as a trip to the Tate Modern, and a voluntary placement at Volk’s Electric Railway. Winning this prize felt like a fantastic end to a great year.

Breakthrough awards are given to second year undergraduate students to support and encourage them through what can be a challenging phase of their studies. The university also holds an annual celebration event for students and donors to celebrate the awards that are given in all subject areas. This is also an opportunity for donors to meet the winners of their prizes, and to see the impact that the awards can make in students’ lives. During the speeches, we were regaled with stories of the many ways the funds had been used. It was amazing to hear how students had used the awards for diverse projects including trips abroad and business start-ups. I left the evening feeling inspired and in awe of the amazing work that students are undertaking alongside their studies.

Hannah with other University of Brighton student award-winners, and the Vice Chancellor, at the annual celebration event, 18 February 2020.

Anne was sadly unable to come to the celebration evening, so I didn’t get a chance to thank her personally. However, her daughter Fiona was attendance. Fiona told me that Anne had had a career in design history and as a result wanted to support scholars in the same field. I am extremely grateful to Anne for this support. Winning an award represents not only financial backing, but a huge boost to my confidence. It gave me renewed enthusiasm and encouragement going into the final year of my studies.

Like many of my peers, I have had to work alongside my degree to support myself financially. The funds have allowed me to have some much needed time off work while I completed my final assignments and dissertation. While I had originally planned to also use the time to gain more work experience to enhance my employability, lockdown hasn’t allowed for this. This has been a blessing in disguise however, as I reflected on my career options and have decided to train to become a teacher. I am very pleased to say that I have accepted a place for next year to train to teach secondary school history. I am hugely grateful to Anne for the award, and the financial support that has allowed me the space and time to work on my studies. It has also given me the confidence and encouragement to pursue a career I know I will love.

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