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From Student Volunteers to Sabbaticals and beyond!

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Introducing Nicole Desouza, Tochukwu Ajare and Cheryl Chan

  The Students Life Department is the supporting department for helping the Vice President Of Welfare & Diversity reach their manifesto goals. Today we have spent some time meeting and speaking with our current, former (and now President Of The Students' Union!) and previous Welfare & Community Vice Presidents; Nicole, Toch and Cheryl to find out more about their journeys and how they got to where they are; what they have learned along the way and what the future lies for them!


Cheryl Chan, 2016 - 2017

How did you get involved with the SVT?

I think the main reason is I love volunteering. It gave me a special feeling of achievement and I got lots of chances to meet up with people from different backgrounds. It was awesome to know more about one another’s as cultures and news and learn from the past.

Therefore, after I joined several volunteering events, I hope to know more about the volunteering department and see what I could do more. Then, I went on to CUSU website and saw the recruitment of the SVT. There’s no doubt I clicked the application button!


What are your personal highlights from SVT?

Well, there were too many good memories. I’m glad to have a great team that everyone is nice and super helpful! For me, I believe getting involved in each event with success is already a personal highlight as nothing can be replaced! Thank you for having me in, team!


What made you want to run for Vice President Welfare & Community?

This was a really long story and I would love to say being a Sabb was a really unforgettable working experience and was a big turning point in my life.

I believe there are lots of challenges in the reality apart from the academic part such as relationships with the others and the community that are worth to pay attention on and explore. This is the reason why I was super active during my University life. Apart from being a member of the Student Volunteer Team, I was a sport activator leader, course rep, project coordinator and member of the Source News. I also engaged in different student campaigns such as the World Aids Day and LGBT+ month. I volunteered at community as well as within the University. Moreover, as I am an international student, it was really memorable when I first came to Coventry. Everything was new to me and dealing with the accommodation, visa and insurance became the most difficult part. Therefore, I understand the importance of having sufficient assistance.  All these experiences inspired me standing to be the Vice President for Welfare and Community. I believe that things can always be better and I wish I could help as a part of the transformation.

I also wanted to show that anyone, no matter their background, could run and succeed in elections! Many Chinese students didn't believe a Chinese student could win, so I wanted to make them see it was possible!


What are your plans for the future?

This is a good question. At the moment, I’m working for two companies. One is related to music and one is about event planning. In the future, I would like to have my own business. Start Small, Think Big!




Tochukwu Ajare, 2017 - 2018

How did you get involved with the Student Volunteer Team?

So I wanted to do some volunteering, and I signed up for the newsletter, one day I got an email saying do you want to be a member of the Student Volunteer Team, so I signed up, completed the application, did the interview and got in. I was also a part of the Student Wardens before I joined the Student Volunteer Team!


What are some of your personal highlights of the Student Volunteer Team?

At the end of the academic year, the Volunteer Coordinator organised a social for all the University Volunteers, and there was awards, funnily enough I got the award for 'Most Fashionably Late!' (Toch had emailed prior apologising for being a few minutes late) but it was hilarious, but the truth was, that I was surprised that the Volunteering Coordinator had noticed everybodies contribution, attitude and involvment in the Student Volunteer Team, I was always that person who would be like 1 or 2 minutes late - but I always told her! When I saw the award I couldn't stop laughing.

For the Student Wardens, I remember the very first person who I knocked on the door - we had a really good talk about issues facing the community and it was good to have a really nice discussion on how to improve this relationship.


What made you want to run for Vice President Welfare & Community?

So I was involved with Student Volunteer Team and Student Wardens and my experiences with these tied in well with the role. So when the time came for elections, it was more fitting for me to for this role as I had a lot of experience.


What are your plans for the future?

So I see myself; running my own business, having a family and supporting others as well to become who they want to be!




Nicole Desouza, 2018 - 2019

How did you get involved with the Student Volunteer Team?

I saw an application online on one of the Volunteer Newsletters which I applied for, and I was like "oh ok, this sounds interesting! I'm going to apply!". I then got a reply saying that I should come in for an interview, but I was on holiday at that time so I couldn't, but they were flexible and said to come inafterwards. I came back, they gave me a slot, and then told me I got it: This was really nice, it was the first time I had written an application and had an interview where I got feedback and had been successful so it was a great experience!


What are some of your personal highlights of the Student Volunteer Team?

I think the best part of the Student Volunteer Team is that you get to meet so many different people from different places and then share experiences through volunteering that you've all had together. When you're at stalls and events you just forget about all your problems because you're busy doing things and talking to people, that was the highlight for my second year, because it made me feel like I was a part of something - this was something I had struggled with in my first year, so that's why I loved the SVT. 

Every event has been great, like Get Involved Week and the Volunteering Fair, we would get to know each other and chat and hang out after the events so it was just a great experience!


What made you want to run for Vice President Welfare & Community?

To be honest; in my second year I was looking to do a year abroad - I really wanted to go to California. But it kinda didn't work out, with this role though, it was challenging, I had done leadership in the past but nothing this big! The Volunteering Coordinator pushed me towards it because she thought I would be a great candidate and really encouraged me to pursue it, so I was like "yeah, I'm gunna do it!". When you're running for elections it's so difficult, you have so many people running around you and you're trying to get lots of different perspectives, but for me all I wanted to do was challenge myself, and it was something I had never taken on before and something I really, really wanted to do. By taking students perspectives I learnt how much I wanted to change. I stood for elections - I won - and here I am now!


What are your plans for the future?

I have no idea! To be honest, I see myself travelling - nowhere in particular, I'm thinking maybe the U.S. because I've never been before - that sounds stupid. Maybe doing my Masters, but maybe in the future doing my own thing. But first I have to go back to my third year to complete my undergrad.



If you are a student interested in becoming a Sabbatical Officer and want to find out more about elections click the link here! But be quick, deadlines close on 03.03.2019.

The Student Volunteer Team is a great way for students who are interested in all things volunteering! Whether it's promoting opportunities, becoming project leaders for Make A Difference Days and creating socials to help us celebrate all of our amazing volunteers the Student Volunteer Team is a fantastic way to meet new friends and gain amazing experiences!

If you're interested in becoming a member of the Student Volunteer Team click the link found here and we will get back to you shortly!




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