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King's Business School student spreads positivity for international students online

Stephen Anurag Prathipati has co-founded an online forum to support the wellbeing of fellow students

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Stephen Anurag Prathipati, a Public Policy and Management MSc student at King’s, has co-founded an online forum to support the mental health and wellbeing of fellow international students in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using the entrepreneurial and civic leadership skills he developed alongside his studies at King’s, Stephen has built a platform that has become a place for students all over the world to find support and talk to others in similar situations.

When his friend, Akhil Ennamsetty, contracted and recovered from COVID-19, Stephen decided he needed to do something to spread positivity to fellow Indian students in the UK.

Stephen met Akhil, a law student at the University of Edinburgh, through the Clinton Global Initiative, a scheme for the next generation of leaders and social entrepreneurs. They knew many international students who had been unable to return to their home countries and were concerned about their visa status and the impact of COVID-19 on their future careers.

Once Akhil recovered, the pair decided to set up an online space for students to find answers to their questions, discuss their concerns and connect with others in a similar situation. Initially a forum for Indian students, it has become a place of community and support for students from countries all over the world, particularly Latin America and Europe.

People, not just in India, need hope and we are trying to spread that hope.– Stephen Anurag Prathipati, Public Policy & Management MSc student

To help him set up this online platform, Stephen drew on the skills, experience and networks he developed at King’s. This includes his participation in this year’s King’s Civic Challenge, which teams up students, staff and charities to co-create imaginative solutions to deliver positive change in local communities.

Stephen’s team made it to this year’s Civic Challenge grand final at London’s City Hall, with a pitch to inspire young Londoners who face barriers accessing cultural activities to connect with local arts and heritage, in partnership with local charity London Youth.

King’s Civic Challenge broadened my understanding and taught me valuable lessons, such as the importance of understanding a local culture, how to organise my skillset and the benefits of networking. King’s is truly a civic university in the heart of London and I am a living example of that.– Stephen Anurag Prathipati, Public Policy & Management MSc student

Stephen also credits King’s Business School and the Entrepreneurship Institute for playing a vital role in helping him to set up the online forum. ‘I was part of a 48-hour start up-event, that was led by the Entrepreneurship Institute's Growth Hacker in Residence, during which I learned app development and how to build websites’, he said. ‘I kept all my notes and I used that experience to build this website.’

Dhananjay Kumar, a Public Policy MA student and Chevening Scholar at King’s, has also volunteered his experience as a student counsellor to help support those who are using the forum. Through his conversations with users, Dhananjay notes that, ‘some students just want to speak to someone to express themselves as they have no one to speak to.’

Stephen has also utilised his networks outside of King’s to ensure as many students as possible are aware of the online forum and the support it provides for mental health and wellbeing. Ranjan Dev Dara, a Construction Engineering Management MSc student at the University of East London, has helped spread the word through social media groups among the international student communities. Ranjan has been particularly instrumental in connecting Indian students in East Ham, Greenwich and Stratford, who were in need of career guidance and mental health counselling.

Over the course of his master’s degree, Stephen has become a valuable member of the King’s community, applying his global problem-solving mindset and knowledge to help make the world a better place.

Stephen has several years’ experience in bringing people together to make a difference to their local communities. He is the founder of Yes We Can, a youth-run society which advocates for the UN Sustainable Development Goals through civic engagement and community partnership.

He also developed a community-led idea for more inclusive agriculture in the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh in India, to support local farmers in introducing millet production alongside rice growing. For this project, Stephen was selected as a Fellow of the Clinton Global Initiative University last year.

We know that sometimes all it takes to change the world is a little support. We want to spread our message of hope and compassion. We believe that a single action can make a difference in the community during COVID-19, and that collective action can greatly impact the world.– Stephen Anurag Prathipati and Akhil Ennamsetty

Find out more about Stephen and Akhil’s online forum for student mental health and wellbeing.

The levels of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 can understandably cause concern. If you have been emotionally impacted, please make use of the support services available to you. The Counselling & Mental Health Support Service is fully available online and you can find more information on their webpages

Please also keep checking your King’s email and the King’s Coronavirus webpages for the most up to date information. If you cannot find the answer to your query on the King’s Coronavirus webpages, please contact questions@kcl.ac.uk