[Iqra Dahir Abdi | Contributing Writer]
Semester B is well underway, exams are around the corner and before we know it we’ll be waving goodbye to some students and hello to others. There is an important group of people that will be leaving their posts this year, they have fought to protect all students and improve student life throughout the University. If you guessed your elected students, then give yourself a pat on the back and if you haven’t, shame on you!
With elections and campaigns gaining full momentum, it’s important to look back and reflect with the current President of the Student’s Union, Gurpreet Singh. Many have trusted his abilities this year, but even he was doubtful about how far he would get this time last year.
Now it’s all good and well knowing Gurpreet’s title, but what does it actually mean? The role President of the Student’s Union entails: overseeing the part-time and full-time officers, chairing the Student’s Union Trustee Board and sitting on various other University Committees.
Yes, I know! The next question will be what does this mean for us, the students? After quizzing Gurpreet, a recent example had been securing £10,000 for small projects around the University. Last year Gurpreet spent this money on microwaves for the LRC, water fountains and benches. Gurpreet says: “These aren’t massive, massive things, but they are things that will make a difference.” So next time you warm your food, or have a seat think of your elected officers.
Gurpreet, has yet to spend all the funds for small projects this year. He welcomes any “quality ideas that will make a difference to University life.”
Just like me and you, Gurpreet started as a student at Hertfordshire University. He was a Joint Honours student studying Mathematics and Business. The mix and match between the two subjects gave him “a fantastic range of skills.” The journey that propelled him to an elected officer began with being elected as a Student Trustee.
“It opened a whole host of opportunities and a new world for me really, in terms of the Student’s Union and what it did,” says Gurpreet. From there he went on to be on the Sikh Society’s committee and the Election Committee.
Quite frankly is fair to say Gurpreet has always been a busy man. Keeping on top of demands as an elected officer requires motivation. After serious thought, Gurpreet notes that there was a turning point in his life when he joined the Sikh Society. Learning that his religion encourages selflessness and giving back to society encouraged him to do more. There was an opportunity to apply “what I was already doing to a wider group through the Student’s Trustee position.”
Gurpreet mentions that aside from religion, there is the obvious motivation of getting wins for students. “That is the real buzz and the real motivation.”
Being involved in University is something we should all be doing more of – sometimes this is easier said than done. Gurpreet has advice for those that want to get involved but are hesitant. His suggestion is to surround yourself with positive people. Also, he stresses pushing yourself outside your comfort zone saying that: “If you’re comfortable than you aren’t challenging yourself and you may not know what you’re capable of.”
It would be silly – and impractical as there are 5 full-time positions and 9 part-time ones – to assume taking part in University elections is for everyone. Gurpreet addresses this: “We have leaders throughout our student population, be that through societies, volunteering, media, sports or clubs.” He argues that University gives you access to people you wouldn’t have otherwise met and we should all take advantage of this. However Gurpreet emphasises the importance of finding something you enjoy and seeing how far you can take it.
Despite all our differences, we all have one thing in common: finding a job in the professional world. Some, including myself, have a fear of the term ‘professional’. Now, there is something you can do to make sure you don’t look like a lemon in the professional world, prepare! Gurpreet suggests an agenda: “Know what you want to ask and what you want to get out of something. It will mean you don’t have to suffer through any awkward pauses.”
The future is as unclear for Gurpreet as it for all of most students. He is considering undertaking a Masters degree or finding a job. It is certain that Gurpreet is good with people and he will continue this in the future.
Finally, looking back on his entire time at the University, Gurpeet says: “It’s the people that have made it so spectacular. I mean, I’ve made friends for life and grown to someone I didn’t think I could be.”
Gurpreet Singh has been an amazing elected officer with wonderful character. He strives for personal growth and reflection. Who wouldn’t take this advice on board?
If you have any suggestions for the small project fund, email email@example.com.