Kenway Legacy Scholar Graduates from Birkbeck

Helen Dunbar, recipient of the Kenway Legacy Scholarship, graduated with Distinction in April 2018 with her MSc Educational Neuroscience. The Kenway Scholarship, named for the late alumna Mrs Constance Kenway, was made possible through a generous gift in Mrs Kenway’s will.

Helen and her son Max enjoying the graduation ceremony back in April.

‘Without the scholarship, it would have been impossible for me to finance my studies. The Kenway Legacy Scholarship enabled me to achieve my goal of postgraduate study and push myself to a higher level of academic study.’ – Helen Dunbar

Mrs Constance Kenway studied Psychology and Social Anthropology at Birkbeck and graduated in 1962. Inspired to give back, Mrs Kenway remembered Birkbeck in her will with a pledge to provide scholarships for excellent MA/MSc psychology students who demonstrated financial need

Mrs Kenway’s generous gift has enabled postgraduate psychology students, including Helen Dunbar, to pursue higher study at Birkbeck.

Helen applied for postgraduate study at Birkbeck to boost her academic credentials and advance professionally. ‘After finishing my BSc in Psychology, it was always my ambition to take it further and study at postgraduate level.’

Helen faced a number of significant hurdles to study. As a single parent to her young son and as a full-time teaching assistant, Helen needed a postgraduate programme that could accommodate her work and family schedule. ‘I had to study whilst continuing working full-time. Being Max’s sole parent, I could not afford to give up work, nor would I have wanted to in all honesty’.

Several of Helen’s colleagues suggested that she look at Birkbeck’s postgraduate prospectus, given its flexible part-time and evening class schedule. ‘Once I came across the Educational Neuroscience course [at Birkbeck], I was set: it would build on my background in Psychology and my interest in Education and Child Development and would complement my job role perfectly’.

Max enjoying wearing his mum’s graduation cap!

Helen’s workplace provided partial sponsorship of her degree, but she still needed extra financial assistance to cover her remaining fees and travel costs. ‘I had reached the point where I had a confirmed place on the course but had now to solve the problem of trying to factor in the outstanding course fees… as well as organising after-school and evening childcare’.

Helen questioned her attendance on the course. ‘At this point, the worry over whether or not I could actually take up this opportunity to study at postgraduate level was almost overwhelming’.

Helen applied to the Kenway Legacy Scholarship with hopes of receiving this necessary extra financial support. ‘When I found out that I had been awarded the scholarship, the sense of relief was palpable. I knew I could make it work from there on in’.

Helen excelled in her studies at Birkbeck. Despite balancing study, looking after her son and full-time work, Helen graduated with Distinction. Helen is now looking toward the future, and her employer has encouraged her to pursue a higher level job. ‘The MSc has given me the confidence to pursue further study and training in Educational Psychology, which will ultimately enable me to better provide for my small family in the future. I could have never reached this point had it not been for the Kenway Legacy Scholarship’.


Many alumni and supporters have chosen to help secure Birkbeck’s future by leaving a gift in their wills.

These gifts fund a variety of research projects and support students in different ways. Whatever the amount, gifts in wills make an enormous difference to the College and to students who may otherwise be unable to continue in education.

Legacy gifts of every size have a lasting impact and help to ensure that Birkbeck, its high-quality teaching and its world-class research continue to serve future generations of students. If you would like to know more about leaving a gift in your will to Birkbeck, please get in touch with our team by calling Kara McMahon on 020 7380 3187 or sending an email to

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