Using my skills to help others
Hanea Tamer is a second year law student at CU Coventry.
She came to live in Coventry from Libya when she was a toddler, so although she doesn’t remember her home country, she feels that she has the best of both worlds and is proud of her roots, but is happy and settled in Coventry.
Her reason for choosing to study law at CU Coventry had more to do with convenience and flexibility than anything else:
“I knew I wanted to do law, but I wanted a course that gave me the flexibility to fit around my other commitments and CU Coventry offered me just that. It was also a good choice financially as I could live at home and the fees were very competitive.”
Hanea’s choice for studying law initially didn’t go down well with her Father as he wanted her to study medicine, but, as Hanea said:
“He is proud of me and can see how hard I am working, so I definitely made the right decision to study law.”
One of the things that impresses Hanea about her course is that the lecturers are all practising solicitors and give the students the benefit of their experience. There is also a good programme of guest speakers who come in to talk about all aspects of law and the variety of work that a solicitor would normally deal with.
“It is so important to be able to hear first-hand from people who are professionals in their field. We are able to follow cases from the start to the finish and learn so much as a result.”
Hanea wanted to use the skills that she had to help other students and as her interests were in contract checking, she could certainly advise students when it came to accommodation and dealing with landlords’ terms and conditions.
“Sometimes students can feel on their own when it comes to solving problems and don’t like to ask for help. What I liked about being a Student Warden and the Student Wellbeing & Mental Health Teams is that they are non-judgemental. They genuinely help students with all sorts of problems and that is why I wanted to become part of it.
“What I like about being part of a team is the sense of belonging and the way the work we do with the students is structured. We plan for most things well in advance so that when we have a promotion on, like the Housing Fair, all groups come together to offer advice and information.
“Coventry is great for students. There are so many places that they can go to for advice, both internally and externally”.
As the joint community officer for the Safer Living Community, Hanea does a lot of work with students on accommodation and tenant’s rights, but she also looks at the wider aspect of student life and city living; giving advice on going out, tips on how to keep you and your belongings safe, as well as travelling safely by taxi.
“We also look at online safety. Students are specifically targeted by scammers and phishing emails. They are so convincing, that it is getting harder and harder to distinguish the real ones from the fake ones.
“International students are targeted when they study in the UK, it happens at virtually every university and I know our IT team do a lot of work in the background to filter phishing emails, but every so often, you will hear stories about how a student has parted with money under the impression that they are dealing with an official body and then finding out it was fake and there’s no way to get their money back.
“We are always telling students to be on their guard and if they are suspicious in any way about an email they have received, then to report it to IT services and certainly NEVER click on a link and input your personal and financial details or your email address is compromised and your bank account is as well.”
Hanea is delighted with the experience that she has had so far working within the various teams.
“So many of my skills are transferable and having hands-on experience assisting others with their contract queries has taught me a great deal. I am better at group work now, as well as team management, event planning, social skills and communications.
“I have also discovered that no student is the same and that in itself is a challenge as I have to be able to work with students from all cultures and tailor my advice to them. It is true that no two days are the same, that’s for sure!”
Hanea recently became part of the University Ambassadors Team which is a paid position and was delighted when she found out that she was successful with her application.
“It meant a great deal to me to get this job. It is only until April as it is something the SU are trying out, but being part of the whole structure and being a student voice ambassador is quite a responsibility. I will certainly find the money very handy as well!”
“I also support the Rep system and give feedback from students to staff about aspects of their course that they may not be happy with. It is good to be able to represent them.”
Hanea’s choice to study at CU Coventry made perfect sense as she lived locally with her family, was doing a course that ticked all the boxes and also, found an excellent solicitor practice locally that she could volunteer with.
The CU Group system that Coventry University has both here and in other parts of the UK works really well if you are a student needing a flexible timetable. It means that Hanea can fit in a lot of her volunteering work in around her studies.
“I started to work for Guildhall Solicitors on a voluntary basis and I absolutely love it. I am getting some wonderful experience which I am sure will benefit me in the long run. I do have an ambition of becoming a partner in a law firm and having a specialism, at the moment, I’m not sure whether that would be in litigation, criminal law or human rights. I am particularly interested in the laws surrounding euthanasia as it is such a grey area.”
In what spare time she has, Hanea has recently taken up painting again after a spell of not doing any.
“I went through a bad patch and was extremely depressed and when you are very low, your enthusiasm for things that you used to enjoy leaves you and you don’t feel very creative. It was something I loved doing but when the depression took a grip of me, it was one of the first things that stopped. However, I’m back drawing and painting again because things have got better and I have started buying art supplies again, which is great.
“Talking about my depression really worked for me and I encourage anyone to seek help if they are struggling. No-one will judge you or tell you you’re a failure. I have had some wonderful support both from the University and in the wider community. That is why I wanted to volunteer with the Student Wellbeing Mental Health Team because I have been there and feel I could be of some use.
“Again, it has been my volunteering experience that has given me the confidence to put myself out there and be a person that others can come to for a non-judgemental chat. Everyone needs someone that they can talk to and it does make a difference, trust me.”
Although Hanea is gearing towards that all important final year in 2021, it is not stopping her from trying to pack in as much as she can before she leaves full time education:
“I am trying to learn some languages at the moment. I have already taken a language course but I am very keen on learning French and Korean as I am very interested in Anime (anime refers specifically to animation from Japan or as an animation style often characterised by colourful graphics, vibrant characters and fantastical themes)
“I did speak a little Italian when I was younger and can speak a bit of French and Arabic, but I think having a working knowledge of Korean would certainly help in my career should I want to work overseas.
“However, next year, I will be applying for jobs and hoping to become a solicitor through the SQE exam. It is the biggest shake-up in legal education for many years and changes the way all solicitors qualify from 2021. I am hoping that will operating once I graduate so that I can take the exam.
“I will certainly have fond memories when I look back on my time at CU Coventry and being involved in a lot of volunteering opportunities, both with the SU and privately.
“I have changed so much and become a more confident person and that is mainly down to the course, the lecturers, the students and staff. Without the wonderful opportunities to use my skills and interests to help others, I don’t think I would be in such a strong position and I am certainly looking forward to what the future has in store for me.”
If you are struggling with issues such as depression or other mental health issues, please book a meeting with one of the University Mental Health Councillors.