Earlier this year, when I threw my hat into the ring for office, my campaign manifesto revolved around the core principles of fostering an all-inclusive student environment. My vision extended beyond traditional boundaries, emphasising increased accessibility to tutors for enhanced staff support, the strategic execution of programs and campaigns aimed at improving the overall academic experience, and providing crucial support to help students successfully navigate and complete their coursework.
In my pursuit of an enriched academic environment, I collaborated with my officer colleagues, the SU staff and indeed students across different societies to champion cross-cultural solutions to ensure that diversity is celebrated and embraced.
Moreover, my commitment extended to campaigning for robust career and employability pathways, recognizing the importance of preparing students for success beyond academia. Additionally, I sought to elevate SU-student engagement, making it a priority to build a dynamic academic enterprise that thrives on collaboration, innovation, and collective empowerment.
So far, so good these are my top 5 achievements in these areas for term one of the 2023/2024 academic year;
Fostering a Sense of Belonging (Inclusiveness):
One of the most notable achievements during my tenure was the revival of celebrations for Nigerian Independence and National Day. Working closely with the Welfare Officer, we organised an event that hadn't taken place in many years. This not only brought the Nigerian community together but also created a platform for cultural exchange, fostering a stronger sense of belonging for Nigerian students and others interested in the culture.
Recognizing the diverse student body, we took steps to celebrate Indian National Day and Diwali, among other festivals. This initiative not only showcased the rich cultural tapestry within our academic community but also provided an opportunity for students from different backgrounds to learn about and appreciate each other's traditions. The colorful and vibrant celebrations brought a festive atmosphere to the campus, enhancing the overall student experience.
I also cultivated a sense of belonging by arranging a "Read and Sip" event during Black History Month, specifically tailored for students identifying as part of the global majority.
Cost of Living:
Recognising the escalating challenges posed by the Cost of Living Crisis in the UK, I actively collaborated with the LBSU Advice Service and the University’s Money Team to spearhead The Money Talk Webinar. This targeted initiative was meticulously designed to address the pressing concerns surrounding the cost of living, offering practical solutions centered on budgeting and effective money management. By leveraging the combined expertise of the Advice Service and the Money Team, the webinar not only provided insightful strategies for navigating financial difficulties but also fostered a sense of empowerment among participants. This collaborative effort aimed to mitigate the adverse effects of the Cost of lLving Crisis by equipping individuals with the essential tools to enhance their financial resilience and well-being.
Building the Students' Union Profile:
Elevating the Students' Union profile became a focal point of my role as I actively engaged in multifaceted initiatives to represent students effectively. Attending conferences like the Wonkhe Festival of Higher Education and the UK Council of International Student Affairs (UKCISA) Fest on behalf of the student body provided a platform to voice our collective concerns and contribute to shaping academic discourse.
Presenting papers at the Academic Board and other relevant committees not only showcased the diverse perspectives of our student community but also ensured that our interests were woven into the fabric of academic decision-making at the University.
Additionally, participating in LBSU led school fora, co-chairing student meetings during developmental course reviews and our community organisaing core team underscored our commitment to fostering a dynamic learning environment. Engaging in community organizing further strengthened the Student Unions' presence, fostering a sense of unity and amplifying our impact. Through these varied efforts, I was able to build a robust Students' Union profile that not only advocated for student needs but actively contributed to the overarching academic and developmental goals of our students at Beckett.
Graduate Jobs and Opportunities:
Elevating graduate prospects became a pivotal focus of my tenure as I collaborated with the SU President and Student Academic Representatives (SARAs) to establish a transformative graduate and peer mentorship program. This initiative aims to bridge the transition from academia to the professional realm by fostering meaningful connections between experienced alumni and current students.
Additionally, our collaboration extended to the University's Careers Team to develop a comprehensive career and internship workshop schedule in tandem with the University Careers Team. Two standout experiential learning projects, namely Eureka and Beckett on Air/CampusCast Podcast, were transitioned into student-led projects. These projects not only offered students hands-on experiences but also serves as dynamic platforms for showcasing their skills and talents while studying at Beckett giving them the required experience needed o secure graduate jobs after studying. Through these strategic endeavours, the focus was not only on academic success but also on empowering students to thrive in their chosen career paths beyond graduation.
In summary, my term as Academic Experience Officer during the first semester marked a transformative period, characterised by an unwavering commitment to cultivating a diverse and inclusive academic community. Through orchestrating cultural celebrations, organizing interactive workshops, and empowering students to take the lead in shaping their academic journey, we not only revived neglected events but also celebrated and embraced the richness of our community.
The collaboration with the Advice Service and the Money Team resulted in The Money Talk Webinar, addressing the pressing challenges posed by the Cost of Living Crisis. Moreover, initiatives like the graduate and peer mentorship program, experiential learning projects, and dynamic career-focused workshops underscored our dedication to enhancing graduate prospects and ensuring a holistic academic experience. These collective efforts have left an indelible mark, fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment among students, ultimately contributing to a more enriched and fulfilling academic journeys for all. I look forward to working and doing more with you as we go into term two come January 2024.
This wishing you and yours a very holiday this festive season.
Academic Experience Officer,
Leeds Beckett Student Union