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Leading in Life Sciences

A journey from Student Rep to Life Sciences President

21 February 2024
Picture of  Ridvan Kucuk

Ridvan Kucuk

President of the School of Life Sciences

Throughout my undergraduate degree, I actively engaged in student representation as I was a representative for three different modules. During these experiences, I understood the importance of student representation and I worked closely with the previous School Presidents which made me aware of what the role entails and how challenging it is. To be the President of the School of Life Sciences is to essentially be the focal point between the students on the various courses of the Biological Sciences and Biomedical Sciences streams and the School Staff.  

My primary inspiration for becoming School President, aside from my wish to continue engaging in student representation and taking it to another level, was the fact that many of my friends, classmates and lecturers said I was the right person for the role and that I should go for it. This was the encouragement I needed and after that, I decided to put my nomination through and face the role head on.  

My first endeavour as School President was to assemble a committee of six Vice Presidents who would support me in the role. Of the six Vice Presidents, three of them are in charge of Learning and Teaching for Levels 1 and 2, Level 3 and Level 4 respectively, while out of the remaining three Vice Presidents, two oversee Employability and one is in charge of Digital Enhancement and Promotions.  

To enhance the overall experience within the school, my Learning and Teaching Vice Presidents and I work closely to advocate for the importance of student representation and encourage students to become module representatives. Our aim is that every module should have a representative who is a liaison between the teaching staff on the module and the students.  

My Learning and Teaching Vice Presidents and I select the module representatives and train them for the role and for the Staff Student Liaison meeting where they are asked to provide feedback to the module managers for their respective modules. This feedback helps the module managers to improve the module for future cohorts undertaking it. Having a module representative for each module is very efficient as it allows them to directly address any issues students face with regard to the module. If an issue spans across more modules or affects a large proportion of the student body within the school, only then do my Vice Presidents and I get involved to address it.  

Another part of the role is to organise the School of Life Sciences Careers Fair which highlights the diverse career paths and opportunities our students can undertake. In order to do this, I work closely with my Employability Vice Presidents and Digital Enhancement and Promotions Vice President. We established sub-committees of student volunteers responsible for different aspects of the organisation process including communication, advertising and logistics.   

Undertaking the role of School President in my final year has been quite challenging, particularly in the first semester where I had to balance out various Presidential commitments while working on a lab-based Honours project every day of the week from 9 to 5. Now that I am back to regular classes, it is slightly easier to attend various meetings including the previously mentioned Staff Student Liaison meeting, the School Board as well as meeting with the Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching and the Operations Manager in addition to the School President Forum, the Educational Steering Group and the Student Representative Council. In addition to this, I also need to constantly check my emails and have oversight of the module representatives and the Careers Fair team.  

Despite the challenges and busy schedule, I enjoy the role of the school President as it allows meet and work closely with many new and interesting people towards common goals which could eventually have a long-lasting impact on the student body and new generations of students to come.  

My key advice for anyone interested in the role is to be courageous and to attempt it as well as to make sure to surround themselves with a strong team to support them in the role. From my own experience, this is crucial if one wants to be successful in the role, as the President can only be as good as the people that surround them.  

 

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