SOAS Grads of 2022: Felix’s Story of Disability Activism and Campaigning for Accessibility

Felix Henson SOAS Grads of 2022

This week, we’re back on campus for our Summer Graduation Ceremonies. This year’s graduates have been through a lot of uncertainty and change throughout their time at university due to the pandemic. So we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the achievements of the SOAS Class of 2022 and ask them what they learned about themselves and their plans for the future.

Felix Henson (they/them) is graduating this week in BA Social Anthropology. They are a disability activist who has served as Disabled Students and Carers Officer and President of SOAS Disabled Students Society during university. We asked Felix a few questions about their time at SOAS and their hopes for the future.

How has your journey at SOAS been?

Tumultuous, to say the least! I began in 2019, so I’ve been affected by both strikes, the change of director and lockdown, in addition to dealing with inaccessibility at the university while also advocating for others dealing with similar issues. However, I’m leaving having made many friends, having produced work I’m really proud of, and grades I’m mostly okay with!

What obstacles you have overcome during your time here?

“I feel that this photo best reflects what I did at SOAS and who I am. I am in the wheelchair on the right. This was at the Queer Prom night at the SU organised by the amazing Krizzel Mapaye, who is on the left. When they graduate, they’re another person I’d recommend speaking to! Everything I’ve accomplished, they’ve been there doing just as much if not more we were both working as welfare contacts for Enough is Enough that night.”
As a disabled student interested in disabled activism, when I applied, I was excited to join the disabled students’ society, then horrified to find there wasn’t one. I decided there and then that one of my main goals during my time here would be to create a disabled students’ society. During my first year, my attempts were unsuccessful however, during my second year, I became the SU Disabled Students and Carers Officer in the year of lockdown. Unfortunately, while online learning was more accessible for some disabled students, it was worse for others, and the newness of it all made things very difficult. As a result, the society was finally born and began to thrive. It was really challenging advocating for so many other students in addition to my own needs and assignments. Additionally, I was diagnosed with ADHD. However, this was a beneficial thing in my experience as it helped me to feel like less of a failure. Anyway yeah, campaigning for the university to meet my own and others’ needs, founding a society, and studying and completing my coursework during lockdown ‘shielding’ was challenging.

What you have learned about yourself?

That I’m capable of a lot more than I gave myself credit for.

What you have enjoyed during your time here?

London! Making friends! My lecturers! I don’t mean to make it sound all negative. I’ve gained so much by being here doing this.

What have you enjoyed about your course?

The content and my lecturers, especially the latter, who, for the most part, I’ve found to always be trying to make my experience the best it can be.

What are your next steps after graduating?

I’ll be moving back up North and seeing what I can do without the uni. I’m nervous, to be honest. It’s all a bit unknown.

Are you looking forward to Graduation?

Yes! I’ve earned this, and I’m excited for my second in the spotlight. 😊

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