Kiera Slaven

Criminology with Law Combined Honours*

  • Year of graduation: 2021/22
  • Current job title: Student Success Mentor and Social Media Management Business Owner
  • Organisation / Company: NNsocials
  • Industry Sector: Higher Education and Social Media Management
  • LinkedIn: Kiera Slaven
  • Instagram: NNSocials

Your University Experience

Why did you pick this course?

I chose to study Law and Criminology as throughout my life there has always been a consistent relationship with the legal and criminal justice sector. Most of my personal experiences contributed to my interest in understanding how these legal systems function and primarily I found that my interest lay in critiquing those functions and establishments. The Law side of my studies gave me a well-rounded introduction to legal systems in the U.K whilst my Criminological studies gave me the freedom to critique such systems.

What aspects of the course have you enjoyed the most, and why?

The spaces created by the criminology team were safe and respectful and allowed not only myself, but my cohort to explore and discuss areas of the justice system, institutions, individuals and many theories in a way that felt safe, fair and balanced. I felt a-lot more connected and invested in my Criminological studies because of the ability to share my beliefs and passions, and most of all my own personal experiences in a space that was welcomed. My personal tutor was particularly supportive of my personal challenges that I faced during my time at the University of Northampton, I believe this support was crucial to my personal and academic development and achievements.

Which if any skills and knowledge/understanding gained on your degree are useful in your work role?

Working on team projects will be a valuable and sometimes difficult lesson to learn, there are systems in place to support the team projects at UON but having the patience, persistence and grace to work collaboratively with your team will be beneficial for you and your teams success.

What extra-curricular activities did you participate while at University, i.e. sports, volunteering, placements?

During my time at UON, alongside working towards my degree, I spent a lot of my time volunteering. One of the longest volunteering roles I had was at the Coroners Court Support Service, this role was emotionally and mentally challenging at times as it exposed me to very difficult events that have occurred in other people’s lives. It allowed me to emotionally and practically support those who were at the end stages of the Coroners final decision making surrounding their love one’s death. Other roles included supporting a local no food waste start-up, based in Northampton, where I would meet a-lot of people who were facing financial difficulties and so the food was on a pay as much as you can afford basis, which positively impacted those peoples lives.

Your Career Journey

What is your current role?

My current role is as a Student Success Mentor which operates primarily within the Faculty of Business and Law. The support ranges from student to student and therefore is tailored to suit their needs. We offer daily drop in sessions for Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) students, which allows them to meet and discuss in confidence any areas of concern of their student life, generally we will inform the students of the wide range of support services available to them at UON, and will guide them to spaces they will find most beneficial to their concern. We all have our own individual projects alongside our mentoring, mine is focussed on enhancing the Student Community and so I’ve generated the idea of building Student Community Platforms in the medium of social media. Suited and tailored to each individual subject within FBL essentially showcasing the staff and students and opportunities of those subjects.

Why did you choose to become an SSM?

During my time at the University of Northampton I found that because of the safe spaces that were available to me, I was able to share my experiences, some of those were raw and unfiltered and this allowed other students to connect with me organically and respectfully. I assumed a natural mentoring position during my time as a student, which allowed me to help other students facing similar struggles. The SSM position was a no-brainer for me, as helping people is something I find a lot of passion and value in doing.

Has there been a standout experience or moment whilst working as an SSM?

The overall experience of being an SSM has been a valuable one. From helping students to organising  and planning their time during crucial deadlines. Working collaboratively with other team members in FBL, forming treasured relationships with both staff and students, and overall working towards creating a safe and helpful space for all. Setting up the Instagram pages is something I’m particularly proud of as I believe these platforms will become a vital source of support for students, whilst fostering a collaborative ethos for students and staff to come together and share their experiences.

How did you gain the qualifications or experience necessary?

To be eligible for the SSM role you must have completed a degree and graduated at the University of Northampton. Therefore having completed my degree just last year I was eligible in terms of my qualifications, however the experience of mentoring came naturally to me throughout my time as a student, I would say that if you are a student (or recent graduate) and find that you naturally assume a mentoring position and enjoying helping and guiding your fellow students then the SSM position could be one suited to you too.

How do you think that your study has helped your career or personal development?

My career plans are in constant flux, I have experienced many different job roles in my life, from mustering cattle in the Australian outback, to working on various remote building sites, to working with vulnerable persons in debt, and the odd job here and there in restaurants. I believe that I have always been on a mission to try anything and everything, so that I can develop skills and experiences, and those have all been so valuable to reaching the point I find myself now. I am currently an SSM but I’m also in the pre-start up stage of creating my own business. I’m very proud to have my degree and I trust that whatever the future brings me will be beneficial to my development.

Are you currently involved in any community or volunteering projects?

I’m not currently involved in any volunteering.  The impact of covid saw a lot of these volunteering opportunities close and once they had started back up again I was not in the position to support them, however with respect to the Coroners Court Support Service, they are always in need of volunteers and it is a great team to work with, based in the town centre opposite the Guildhall.

Your advice

In one sentence, what advice would you give to undergraduates interested in this work eg. tips on gaining entry, accessing opportunities, anything you wish you had known earlier?

Don’t be afraid to talk to people about your ideas, a lot of students tend to let that inner voice beat down their ideas before they have even begun to chase them, so communicate with people, with staff and your cohort, speak to the SSM’s and the various support services at the university as they all want to see students thrive.

In ten works or less how would you promote the University of Northampton to prospective students?

I would recommend the University of Northampton, because it’s a supportive place to achieve your goals and dreams!

In ten words or less how would you summarise your University experience?

To sum up my UON experience, I’d say it was safe, respectful, and knowledgeable.

* UON no longer offers Joint Honours Programmes, but you can still study Law LLB (Hons), Criminology BA (Hons), or Law and Criminology BA (Hons) as single honours courses.