At Bradford College the staff on Benjie Kusita’s programme have been overwhelmed by her determination and commitment. Benjie is in her final year of a BA (Hons) Media Makeup with Special Effects degree.
English is not Benjie’s first language, she is from a Thai background, and her culture and family do not support her career choice. She is also a single parent of a six year old, called Leo. It has been very difficult for Benjie to manage life as a student with the challenges of being a single parent, with little family support.
Benjie works with her mother in a Thai massage therapy business. Due to long business hours and her mum’s expectations, Benjie has to study in the little time available and often through the night, arriving at college via a long commute on only one to two hours sleep.
During her first year, Benjie experienced the challenges of academic essay writing, annotation and verbal articulation. This hindered her self-confidence, because she is capable and intelligent. During her second year, Benjie received some English support, but she still continued to struggle; to compensate, she prepares and researches module content during the holidays.
The standard of Benjie’s practical work however is exceptional in terms of effort, quality, breadth and depth. Visually, her work is inspiring and creative and she enters competitions to improve and perfect her skills, networking within the industry.
During the summer of 2018, Benjie, self-funding, entered the London Brush Wars competition. Based on a Circus theme, her submission was accepted, but unfortunately due to personal reasons she could not attend and had to retract her entry. The head judges, clearly impressed, placed a notice on social media showcasing her image, commenting how ‘amazing’ her work was. Subsequent social media comments from famous TV/film makeup designers were incredibly complimentary with Benjie receiving industry recognition.
Benjie’s entry for the Brush Wars competition impressed her tutors and inspired her peers to enter the 2018 War Paint competition at Pro Beauty North, Manchester; in the past it has been difficult to get students to enter competitions, but Benjie has set a precedent.
Benjie’s positive social media posts motivated and inspired her peers to push ‘that bit harder’ and ‘go that bit further’. This would have not happened without Benjie’s hard work, commitment and vision. In 2019 the college had three students entering the London Olympia competition including Benjie, and again all self-funding.
Not only does Benjie work consistently hard as a mother, student, employee, business partner, but she has set up two other businesses to promote her creative work; a headdress business, Headkase and an eyelash business, Benjie Lashes. She supports other peers with her practical skills guidance and friendship, and is a fantastic role model and inspiration to tutors, as a result of the challenges she has overcome in diversity, equality and academic study.