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07 July 2021

Catherine Liu reflects on the Future Global Leaders Fellowship

FoDOCS student Catherine Liu reflects on taking part in the Future Global Leaders Fellowship this year.

Catherine Liu

It has been a privilege to be the FoDOCS representative on the Future Global Leaders Fellowship this year. This has been a unique opportunity to learn about leadership, teamwork, and collaboration on an international level, which is so valuable as the whole world is becoming more easily connected across geographical boundaries.

The FGLF programme this year adapted to the difficult circumstances by becoming fully remote. We started with regular virtual meetings throughout the first term to discuss ideas on leadership, our varying experiences of leading and following, and useful texts on leadership studies and philosophies. In the second term we joined the Principal’s Global Leadership Award with a bigger cohort of undergraduates and postgraduates, and were led through a series of personal reflections and real-world case discussions to challenge our perspectives.

I particularly remember the thought-provoking talk given by Professor Olonisakin (Vice Principal International of King's) which inspired us to think about our own personal narrative and value. In the third term of the FGLF, we worked on personal development plans and had the privilege of one-to-one discussions and feedback with Dr Michael Flavin (Senior Lecturer in Global Education and FGLF lead); this term focused on our personal goals and growth beyond the FGLF year, and was a great opportunity to apply our learning from this year to our future plans.

As I entered the FGLF alongside my MSc coming from a purely clinical background, it was a new experience learning about aspects of philosophy, politics, sociology, psychology and anthropology which all overlapped with the study of leadership. I really enjoyed exploring these subjects and learning about different models of leadership which dominated in different cultures, like the Ubuntu philosophy which is rooted in the values of community, communality, and compassion. I have learnt that effective leaders must adapt to the community they serve and changing situations; there is no single definition of a ‘good’ leader. Through studying many different styles of leadership in theory and examples in practice, I feel I have developed a deeper insight into my own beliefs, behaviours, and relationships. I have realised that my motivation lies in the pursuit of equality and universal respect, be it in healthcare or in society as a whole.

Indeed, I am fortunate to be working with Professor Jenny Gallagher (Dean for International Affairs) and Dr Sasha Scambler (Academic Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) on a project that will explore the experiences of international students studying in FoDOCS. We hope to identify any areas that may be improved in order to help students from all across the globe to have the best university experience as possible here at King's. I am excited to learn about this and to contribute to King’s vision of being a truly inclusive, international community.

Since starting the FGLF, I have grown in confidence and channelled my enthusiasm to lead on a number of paediatric oral health education courses with Health Education England (HEE), as well as oral health sessions for people with autism and learning difficulties with the charity Mencap. These have been thoroughly rewarding as I have been able to use my clinical experience to spread awareness of the importance of preventative health measures, especially targeting vulnerable groups to help them achieve the same levels of oral health as the average individual. After my MSc, I am thoroughly looking forward to starting a new job as an HEE Clinical Leadership Fellow, where I will practice clinical dentistry in a special care community clinic and also work with leaders in the NHS to develop healthcare improvement projects.

The FGLF has undoubtedly been instrumental in guiding my personal and professional growth, and I feel really fortunate to have been a part of it. I am incredibly grateful to Michael for running this programme through challenging circumstances, and, despite the restrictions this year, it has been wonderful getting to know people from the other faculties at King's. I hope to take all the learning from the FGLF with me into the future, and to maintain the relationships formed long after this year is over (and someday even meet without a computer screen in the way).