Nicola Cowper
MSci Environmental Science
Fundraising Officer

In my first year at university, I was barely involved with the Students’ Union at all. Moving to a new place, meeting all those people, getting used to different timetables and a different style of teaching made me think that starting a society or doing something new would have been all too much. I stuck to similar things that I had done at home, like going to choir and church, and made friends through my course and who I was living with.

Midway through first year, one of my lecturers proposed an idea to send second-hand books from schools in the UK to schools in Ghana. I thought this was brilliant - a sustainable idea which promotes education and international development. A group of us met up and we eventually turned into a committee. We then set up the group as a society to start running the following September as Ghanaian Book Connection.

This led to so many opportunities in the second year. We collaborated with so many societies by putting on events and raising the money to send books to Ghana. We also travelled around Cornwall collecting books and teaching students in schools about what we were doing. At home, charity and fundraising was always a large part of my life, but I never thought I would be part of setting up my own 'charity' in a way, through all the ups and downs of sending off over 1,000 books within six months, to sending many emails to other coordinators and not getting anywhere with it. Setting up a society is hard, and to go far you and your team need to be passionate and prepared to put in the time to get the rewards and recognition. We won ‘Newcomer of the Year’ at the Students’ Union Activities Awards and I managed to reach my Gold ‘Legends’ volunteering award by volunteering over 250 hours to get Ghanaian Book Connection up and running.

Through meeting like-minded students who were passionate about the environment, volunteering and fundraising, I was encouraged to run for Fundraising Officer and have succeeded. I am looking forward to working with RAD (Raise and Donate), societies and individuals to promote sustainable fundraising and helping other students pursue all of the opportunities that the Students’ Union has to offer.