Kristeena studied MA Media and Creative Industries at Loughborough University London.
Kristeena now works at Talk Up Radio as a Media Producer and Creative Director.
What were you doing before you started your master's?
Before studying my master's, I worked in media in Jamaica for four years, leading youth focused television and radio platforms and projects. I wrote for youth development projects, listening to young people talking about their experiences and crafting narratives that could be used to advocate on their behalf and raise awareness of the issues affecting them. I was a Television and Radio Producer and reported on youth issues. I was a Story Editor and Voice Actor on a children's show that converted the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into culturally-relevant, child friendly stories. I also led a number of community and school based projects working with grassroots activists.
Why did you choose Loughborough University London and your programme in particular?
After studying journalism and working in media production for years, I was looking for a broad programme drawing on media and communications, development, ethnography, design, culture and creative industries that would prepare me for further studies and research, open up career options in social policy, design research and international development, as well as help me contextualize my unique experiences as a media producer working in the development space.
Also, the strong cultural and historical ties between Jamaica and the UK meant that I consumed a lot of globally relevant media created by London-based Black British content creators so I knew there was a vibrant creative industry that would be a great space to learn in.
The Media and Creative Industries MA at Loughborough University London stood out as a highly ranked programme, based in London, with world class lecturers and a broad curriculum that gave me the space I needed to create a master's journey that met my needs.
How did you fund your studies?
Tell us about your most memorable experience on your course
I really enjoyed being guided through Hackney and Brick Lane by Lecturer Patria Roman-Velasquez and , exploring the ways residents are creatively resisting the gentrification and underdevelopment of their communities through art and cultural expression. We were encouraged to get familiar with the communities around the university and to see beyond the shininess of central London and I really appreciated that.
Throughout the year I attended events organized by community groups in these areas, spent money with local businesses, supported their media projects and read books and articles written by residents examining the changes to their communities. Grounding theory in space is particularly important to me as a student from a developing country. I came to Loughborough University London intending to go home and use what I learned to actually impact the development of my home country. I saw so many similarities between my own work and the work of these groups, that I decided to work with a number of them for my dissertation research looking at civic/community media organizations in London, which was also a highlight of my time at Loughborough University London.
Describe a day in the life of a postgraduate student on your course
You might spend your mornings catching up on reading or working on assignments as most classes are held in the afternoon to early evening. They consist mostly of two hour lectures where loads and loads of information is shared (definitely do the readings to be able to follow and possibly download the slides so you can annotate them) and a hour-long tutorial to discuss the information and ask any follow up questions. In the evenings after class most students like to get together and maybe go to a pub or attend a university organized event.
How did you like to spend your time away from your studies?
I really enjoyed attending cultural, professional and creative events across the city. There are pockets of cultural diversity in the city through which you can explore art, music, food, knowledge in various forms from all over the world. I loved for example, taking my Indian friends to Jamaican restaurants and explaining the difference between how the dishes were prepared in the UK vs. in Jamaica. There were also many professional and networking events facilitated by the Chevening Secretariat that were great for making new connections.
How has Loughborough University London inspired you and helped you to progress in your career?
I was inspired by lecturers who were willing to facilitate difficult conversations and engage with knowledge students brought to the classroom from their cultures and regions. While the world seems to be shying away from identity issues, many lecturers actively encouraged multi-cultural discussions applying theories in real time to current global affairs which I think enriched the learning experience.
It seems like a small thing but I spent many of the study breaks travelling around the world as a United Nations Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals, speaking at major UN conferences on issues in creativity and heritage, decent jobs for youth, education etc. At every opportunity I felt like my degree played a part in me being able to approach the issues in knowledgeable, nuanced, culturally sensitive, ways.
With Covid-19, the global Black Lives Matter movement, climate change and many other issues rocking the globe and affecting billions of different people with different experiences, I am optimistic that the university will embrace the opportunity to be a space that does not see diversity as a barrier to the advancement of knowledge but rather as a prerequisite.
Tell us about your career journey so far.
I've had an interesting and unique career journey that's shaped my outlook on the world. I've worked in media for almost seven years, starting right out of high school as a writer/reporter then propelling radio and television shows from ideas into reality as Producer and Production Manager. I've also done screenwriting for a UNICEF backed children's show and done significant project management work. What ties all of this experience together is that I deliberately choose to make and support media that amplifies the voices of people in under-served communities and on underappreciated issues, that puts people and the planet first.
Talk Up Radio is a youth-led radio programme that I helped to design and I now serve as its Producer and Creative Director, coordinating our team of young creatives and advocates, and developing content and innovative projects. Over the last four years and 211 episodes, Talk Up Radio has been a supportive mainstream media platform for over 300 Jamaican and international youth advocates, creatives, social entrepreneurs, grassroots community groups, young and senior politicians, business leaders and civil society organizations doing positive work in advancing each and every sustainable development goal and examining issues affecting young people.
What do you love the most about your current job?
Creating spaces for youth voice!
With social media young people have so much opportunity to create their own channels, to speak on issues that matter to them, to advocate, organize and build organizations and I'm happy to be able to create space for them to connect with each other. At Talk Up Radio we get to make linkages among these young people, support young people in developing their ideas and solutions into viable projects, amplify these innovations and pull attention to issues affecting young people. Young Jamaicans know that they will always have a space for them at Talk Up Radio, somewhere their needs come first and their voices matter.
If you could give one piece of advice to a postgraduate student, what would it be?
Bring yourself to the experience! Think clearly about the career and life you want, what interests you, what motivates you, and bring that into every decision you make as a student from what programme you choose, to what you choose to research to what electives you take, to your approach to assignments. You are as important to the success of your Masters programme as the readings, the lecturer, the facilities etc. So show up!
Were you involved in any other projects outside of your studies?
For my work on media and youth, I was recognized by the United Nations Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth and an international High-Level panel of leaders across civil society, government and the private sector, as a UN Young Leader for the Sustainable Development Goals. As an SDG young leader I've championed the need for strategic youth engagement on all issues, including all 17 sustainable development goals in more than 7 countries around the globe.