Our class of 2021 really are something to shout about. They’ve overcome challenges, helped others, grasped opportunities and developed their skills, showing their Essex Spirit in so many ways. And they’ve done it all during a pandemic when student life has been changed beyond recognition. We couldn’t be prouder of them so we’re telling their stories.
Wed 14 Jul 21
Olivia Brown’s own experiences growing up as a black woman from a working-class background caused her to question from an early age why inequality and injustice dominate for many in society.
Her first-hand exposure to racism, sexism and classism led her to want to explore privilege and marginalisation for herself.
“Studying sociology at A level also made me realise several notions I had about society were founded on common misconceptions and I wanted to learn more so I decided to apply to Essex.”
Three years later, Olivia is graduating with a BA Sociology.
The rich history of the department and its international reputation together with the University’s multi-racial and culturally diverse student population were key to her choice and her activities and studies have shown her that Essex has lived up to her expectations.
To make the most of her time and to learn more about the subject, Olivia stood as President of the Sociology Society alongside her studies.
“I wanted to promote the study of sociology, create a space which allows conversation and therefore an environment which motivates learning and societal change,” she explains.
Organising meetings and forming networks to explore the sociological discipline expanded her interest even further and she really enjoyed putting together collaborations with other societies such as Psychology and Feminism to look at their fields of study through a range of contexts and engage with students from other disciplines.
"I wanted to promote the study of sociology, create a space which allows conversation and therefore an environment which motivates learning and societal change."
In her role in the Society, Olivia worked to increase communication among the undergraduates which proved invaluable during the pandemic when they were struggling to make relationships and stay sociable.
“I set up social media networks to keep people connected, to lessen the loneliness that we have all felt and to help each other with their studies.”
The most exciting moment for Olivia as President of the Sociology Society was interviewing the organisers of the Black Lives Matters event in Colchester. “Finding out what their motivations were, sharing their experiences with members of the Sociology Society and other students and being part of the movement was an absolute honour.”
Another role that Olivia enjoyed was that of Student Ambassador. “I remember how influential and supportive the ambassadors were when I was deciding where to study. They were really helpful to me and it is fun to meet the potential incoming students. I loved working with the academics and sharing their enthusiasm for Sociology.”
The next step for Olivia is to study for a Masters degree in Ethnographic and Documentary Film at University College London which will combine the academic skills in anthropological knowledge she has learnt in her time at Essex with her interest in telling stories through the use of documentary film making.