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SCSA Graduate Experiences England’s Culture, Politics

June 21, 2023
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Grayson Kirkland, left, a recent graduate of the South Carolina School of the Arts, visits Westminster Abbey with Marissa Treibley. They worked together at a British consulting firm and became close friends.

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Before graduating from the South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University, Grayson Kirkland found a dream job opportunity—across the Atlantic.

While at Anderson, Kirkland was active as a student, serving as a College Ambassador for the South Carolina School of the Arts and as design director for Anderson University’s Student Government Association. Professionally speaking, she is a member of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts).

Kirkland has always had a passion for travel. She’s been to Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Hungary, Romania and Nicaragua. While working a summer job near her hometown of North Augusta in 2022, Kirkland started thinking about the work she was doing. As she considered where she was, she thought more about where she wanted to be.

She asked herself, “Why not work abroad? What’s holding me back?” 

Kirkland’s heart was set on experiencing a new culture and she wanted to do something more long-term than just two weeks studying or going on a mission trip. How could she use her skills and graphic design overseas?

“I began looking to see what would have been central to a lot of different locations and London was the place that piqued my interest,” she said. “I began researching ‘How can I study abroad? How can I get a visa? How can I get an internship abroad?’ I came across a company called Global Experiences. I interviewed with them and sent in my resumé and portfolio. They loved my work and they put me in contact with a company that they felt matched everything that I wanted to do… They got me in contact with Brevia Consulting, which is a British conservative consulting firm.”

Kirkland arrived in London in early June 2022 and stayed through the middle of August, maintaining Brevia’s digital presence. 

“Brevia has their hands in a lot of things and helps guide different companies and clients… They work very in tandem with the Conservative Party,” she said. “My boss really wanted me to be immersed in that world of British politics and British culture so I can understand how to best serve their target audience… My first day of training, I was going to Parliament and sitting in the House of Commons and the House of Lords to see how that process is worked through and see the type of language that’s used and the types of decisions and feelings going on currently in the political environment.”

Kirkland, who enjoys research, felt she found her niche.

“For their clients, they wanted to make sure that they were giving out information—kind of a side-by-side comparison of Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss (British Prime Minister candidates). I was kind of in charge of putting all of that together.”

Kirkland was gratified that her colleagues saw her as an equal—not just a 21-year-old American college student coming to work for them.

While living in London, Kirkland also found a church home at London City Presbyterian Church, which she described as a very diverse congregation, and befriended an American family there. 

“They actually did the same campus ministry I did at Anderson, which is RUF (Reformed University Fellowship). We bonded over that and they took me under their wing,” she said. “That was amazing, to just have Christian friends in a place where I knew I was the minority.”

Many times Kirkland saw opportunities for having faith conversations with others.

“I had a coworker who was also through the Global Experiences program… She’s become one of my greatest friends since then. She had an eye for design and we were able to really just sit and talk. She asked about faith a lot and we really just poured into each other. I think that was probably my favorite thing—just being able to work beside her professionally but then also walk alongside her personally.”

Kirkland also discovered that British people she met would ask her about her Christian faith, but out of curiosity and not to ridicule. 

“The British people are really just curious. My boss and my co workers would ask me a ton of questions about it, but it wasn’t ‘I want to trip you up’ or questions of ‘why are you doing this? This makes no sense.’ It was more like a curiosity to gain knowledge,” she said.

Kirkland also enjoyed traveling outside of London to explore other parts of the country.

“I wanted to make sure I enjoyed the entire English and Scottish countryside, so I booked a train, an eight hour train from London to Inverness just so I could see all the landscape and took a train to the coastline, the valleys and the mountains and the Highlands, the Midlands—overall the whole eight hours was just breathtaking,” she said.

Kirkland graduated this past May with her BFA in Graphic Design and currently works as a graphic designer in the Anderson University Office of Marketing and Communication, where she’s helping to create and implement digital campaigns for master’s degree programs.


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