Grab yourself a cuppa because this is going to be long.
I cannot believe we are almost as the end of what has been the quickest and craziest year of my life. When starting as President Student Experience in June 2022, I did not anticipate over half of what I have encountered. Looking back, there’s definitely things that I would do differently, things I wish I had done, and things I wouldn’t have done at all, but hindsight is a wonderful thing and everything happens for a reason. I’m going to pour all my gushy, nostalgic reflections into this final update and focus on the many weird and wonderful things that have happened over the past year, in no particular order.
My proudest achievement from the year has to be singlehandedly planning the SU’s annual Sexhibition event which took place on Valentines Day. It was amazing to bring together several incredible societies and external organisations, such as the Eddystone Trust, to raise awareness of sexual health and sex positivity. I am so grateful to everyone who attended and made the event fun, vibrant, informative, and inclusive, and it is an experience I will never forget.
A huge part of the year for me has been working with sports clubs and societies, supporting their committee members, and ensuring their voices are represented in meetings, as they make up and integral part of the student experience and bring more fun to university life. I revived the Activities Forum, which is a beneficial space for committee members to hear updates, bring feedback, and be involved in the shaping of activities services within the SU. Also, with help from our PTOs in our Activities Committee, we allocated £8000 from the Activities Development Grant to 32 different groups (a handful received funding more than once) to support the growth of the groups and their activities. I would like to say a huge thank you to Francesca, Jordan, Bobby, and Abigail, the PTOs who sat on the committee, for their input and support over the year. Finally, I have provided more opportunities for student groups to advertise themselves widely across SU channels by setting up the Spotlight on Sports and Societies, which began with ‘Takeover Tuesdays’ on Instagram and blog posts on the SU website, to interviews with committee members – I’m excited to see how the spotlight grows in the hands of our incredible Comms team next year.
Another one of my original manifesto priorities – which I wrote all the way back in January 2022 – has been progressing over the last few months, which is a sensory garden on the Penryn Campus. I have worked closely with the Grounds team in FXPlus, and with Abhishek, the Biodiversity Project Officer in FXPlus, to enhance the sensory experience of the Walled Garden. We have looked at expanding and bringing more focus to the sensory elements within the garden and have also come up with several ideas to make the garden more accessible. This is a lengthy project that will continue to develop after I have left, but I am excited that an already special space within the campus will be made even better and accessible to more people.
Over the year, I have supported a range of wider projects across the partnership, many that have been established this year and others that have been ongoing for several years. Highlights include the Exeter Graduation Review, SU space project (which will be coming very soon!), and the development of sport on campus. I have also taken forward several mandates from our student council, including lobbying for cheaper facilities for sports clubs and societies, and building a skatepark on the Penryn Campus. Also, I have worked closely with my fellow Presidents to run campaigns on sustainability and the cost of living, which have been very important topics within the student community this year. I took the lead in planning Talk Money Week and the follow-up SU Money Week, which were hugely beneficial spaces in sharing support and information to students, and gathering feedback which we were able to share in meetings with the universities and FXPlus.
Finally, I have had an incredible number of national opportunities, in which I have represented students, been a part of huge decision making, and have been inspired by the work of other officers from across the country. However, the biggest highlight has to be attending (and presenting at) the National Societies and Volunteering Awards, where our incredible Asian Society won the Opportunities for All Award. So many of our amazing student groups have reached local and national success this year and I am so proud of each and every one of them.
I feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to work in this unique role and I am so thankful to every student who believed in me and voted for me. There are so many more things that I could have talked about in this post, but I’ve typed too much already! I hope that you have felt supported and represented this year, and I want to thank everyone for speaking up, sharing their feedback, and being all around amazing – I wouldn’t have achieved anything without you, and I am so grateful.
As I go on to my next adventure – moving to New Zealand and then travelling the world – I know that this year will always hold a special place in my heart. I feel so honoured to be the LAST President Student Experience EVER (RIP President Student Experience, you will be missed) and I have so much love for this campus and Cornwall as a whole, I want to specifically wish good luck to Connie, Hannah, Phil, and Orestis, who I know will absolutely smash it next year, but also say good luck to everyone for the future.
Lots of love and cofion gorau (best wishes),