I’ve never particularly thought I was good at anything. I spent my first years of university wondering how I’d gotten where I was. I had various counselling sessions just because I was so worried I was living a lie and had gotten everywhere through luck. I began doing some volunteering through the Students’ Union for possibly the worst of reasons, to try and impress someone. I joined RAG because my college friend said it was good to join, despite not knowing what RAG even stood for. I ended up joining and slowly started to do charity events and campaigns.
In 2012 I attended a demo in London, I wasn’t entirely sure what the demo was or what I was doing there, it was sold to me as a day off uni work and a trip to London! Little did I know it was my first taster of student activism and it had a mad effect on me.
At the time the SU had a campaigns officer, a now good friend Georgie Laming who was also part of RAG. I don’t really know how it happened but kinda by osmosis I gained more knowledge of what the SU was. She ran in the elections and I followed suit in my second year. I didn’t entirely know what I was running for, I wrote a manifesto based on my experiences of the counselling services and that was it. I had such low self esteem I thought it wasn’t worth running for and did no campaigning, I bunked off a great opportunity to visit our Warsash campus in favour of Wetherspoons with my coursemates.
I stood on that stage in March 2014 and when my name was called as having won by about 100 votes I couldn’t believe it, I kinda went through a crisis thinking ‘WHY DID PEOPLE VOTE FOR ME OH GOD I’M THE WORST CANDIDATE OH NO’ and it went like a blur from then… I started and went through a lot of personal issues. I had never told anyone about my mental health until then, I remember a very tearful evening sat outside a hotel in Oxford breaking down about my mental health from which I took action to improve not only my own but others mental health. I hosted a mental health awareness week and it was fantastic, over 11,000 people saw our facebook posts and so many students were involved with the physical aspects of the campaign. My mental health is now in a stable place and I keep working to improve.
I could go on forever about all the stuff I did and highlights of my time in office, but I’m not going to. For me I never saw success as being measured by numbers or stats or facts. I saw it as the look and emotion students showed me. I’ve had countless students breakdown to me about some of the most sensitive topics, like mental health, rape, suicide and others. It really made me see the world from other peoples viewpoints. So many students who have hugged me, thanked me and shown appreciation for what I thought were always small things I did. Success was just that for me, what individual students thought of me, and I like to think I did a good job.
I’d like to thank so many people from the last 2 years so please continue reading to see all of the personal highlights for me…
To Liz, although I only got to work with you for a few months you really helped me understand work ethics, democracy and tolerance. You never once showed hostility or rudeness and for that I thank you.
To Hannah, you really did know how to lighten up a room, your strength and strong moral compass really helped me realise what Equality truly meant and your game of thrones knowledge was on point! We’ve lost contact but I want you to know you’ll always have a special place in my heart and mind.
These guys were our sabb team in my first year, but I really can’t thank them without thanking the predecessors, particularly for my role. To Gemma and Simona, I hope I carried the torch appropriately, I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering whether I did a good job or not. You were both huge inspirations for me and both helped me through some troubling times.
To my outgoing sabb team, Charlotte and Jasmine. Many have called us the dream team and I can’t put it in any better words myself. Charlotte for being sassy and confident and so hardworking, Jasmine for being the light of the room with a fierce love of Tay-Tay (Everyone loves tay-tay…). I can’t put in words how much you all mean to me so I’ll leave it at that.
To all the staff I’ve had the pleasure to work with from the university, it’s been great working with you all and I hope I’ve contributed appropriately looking forward for the universities plans.
To the Vice Chancellors Group you are a bunch of the most talented and informed people I’ve ever met and to say you’re all role models would be an understatement. The work you undertake and the operation you manage is one vastly underappreciated and I feel you deserve more appreciation, so please accept mine with open arms!
To all the union staff, you’ve supported me and helped me through every campaign, no matter how big or small. I would be writing a novel if I mentioned how much you’ve all helped so please accept this brief paragraph just saying that you were all simply fantastic, I really can’t thank you enough.
To all of my friends, you’re all amazing and I’m astounded you’ve managed to put up with me for this long, most of you I’ve known for most of your journey through university and I hope my impact was a lasting one as yours was to me. I hope to continue to show you all my love for years to come.
To Lorna, your love for coke zero is insatiable, I’m concerned it’s actually an addiction! Jokes aside I’ve heard several people call you the ‘Union Mum’ and I’d have to agree, your love and acceptance tied with expertise and knowledge over the past 2 years has really improved my self worth. So I thank you
To Naomi, I know I haven’t exactly been the best person over the years but I think our differences are really what bring us together. You’ve been a friend, manager and mentor for 2 years now and it’s really been the best time ever. Your quotes and daily discoveries have always amused me, from classics such as only trying Jam for the first time in your twenties to questionable survival strategies it’s really been one hell of a ride and I’m glad you’ve been at the helm.
To Sophie, we met through weird and unfortunate circumstances but you’ve entered my life recently and I’ve embraced it with open arms. It’s been such a weird set of circumstances and I hope I’ve done the right thing throughout, you really are someone special to me.
I’ve gone on for too long now and this has been both a joy and a curse to write. I’m ecstatic over the support and love I’ve received yet I’m sad to see the end of my term.
My final note goes to you reading this, firstly thanks for reading this! If you’re a student, an ex-sabb or an ex-candidate in one of our elections then let it be known you are one of the strongest voices on campus. Every one of you is special and important, as the Doctor would say ‘You know that in nine hundred years of time and space and I've never met anybody who wasn't important before.’ Just change 900 for 2…
And looking forward, I still have some studying left to do and I look forward to every moment on this vibrant and creative campus. For the new team and all future teams, best of luck to you and I know you’ll all make some real change on campus, locally and even nationally.
More specifically to my successor Hanna, it’s always difficult with elections when 2 of your best friends are running for the same role. All of the candidates this year were fantastic and I know you’d all have done a fantastic job. I couldn’t think of anyone better to take over the role. From our two week handover period I’m confident that this year we’ll see some great things come from you.
We’ll all see fresh challenges, highs and lows, wins and losses which we’ll ride through together. Best of luck to you for the future.
Now… it has to be said…
I don’t wanna go… :'(