Farewell (My term in office has officially ended therefore I am blogging in a personal capacity. Let the genie out of the bottle baby!).
So long, farewell, auf weidersen, goodbye, attempting to write this is going to make me cry.
Today is my final day in office and I can’t believe how busy I still am. I had a meeting at 10am followed by report writing and proof reading the 300 AAB certificates. This is far from the vision I had for my last day which included typical last day at school activities; bring a toy to work day, play bucket rounders for 15hrs, get grass stains down my new jeans and perhaps indulge in a small glass of fizz on the stroke of 4pm. But hey … the teddy bear picnic is happening thanks to Callum Hogg.
But I am never too busy to attempt to try to put into words my gratitude to the people who have made this experience the most ridiculous jungle of exploration that would even make the Wild Thornberry’s jealous………
How do you put into words 2 years that have been the most hectic, chaotic, devastating, inspiring, winning years of your life?
Yesterday the Vice-Chancellor announced to the University council that we have been the best sabbatical team he has ever seen. This is no reflection on the work of others as they have been equally as great but the past 2 years have required us to act fast in the face of; cuts, tuition fee rises, an expanding university with shrinking SU resources, the gloomy mist over the future of Higher Education sector and an unknown journey for current students . We have had to make YOUR voices heard more than EVER before, and just this week we have secured even more funding from the University by Badman aka persuasive spice. Taking the total expansion of funds over 2 years to £62k. (£15k of which split between SU and SSG FOR StARs).
This sounds like a lot, but when you are the second lowest funded union in the UK, and the No.1 SU in the North west, just imagine what we could do if we had the resources to set up at Kingsway, Riverside and Thornton?!
Rewinding 2 years ago, coming in to office is the most bizarre feeling, knowing that thousands of students chose you to represent them and I can hand on heart say that I have put my all in to this job, at times a little too much especially when you are having panic attacks, on one occasion collapsing and another time ending up in urgent care. But it was worth it.
A few key things I have learned whilst being Michelle Obama are:
1. When people you care about and trust the most hurt you and let you down, it really bloody hurts
2. No handed dessert is a thing
3. Women are being objectified, sexually harassed and in some places raped and murdered for no reason. It needs to stop.
4. Being a woman in leadership does not mean you have to be a bitch
5. Self care is important. And it is a thing.
6. I see most of the CSU staff as my own Chester family.
7. Fast fashion is killing our environment
8. Equality and diversity is not a buzz word, it’s a thing we should all practice.
9. Students are the leaders of tomorrow and it’s all of our responsibility to make them realize it
10. You can be inspiring from any age and inspire people of all ages just by leading by example
11. Having respect for others goes a long way
12. A job is not a job when you love it. It is a way of life
13. Sabb flab is a real thing
14. There is much more to the union than sports and a bar.
15. But the sports and bar is very good.
16. Going out on socials are much harder when you are creeping towards your 6th year in Chester
17. How to grow a thick skin when people call you ‘disgusting’ and ‘unprofessional’ for having personal political opinions or when people personally attack you for something one or two students may have done without thinking.
18. Its doubly difficult trying to please the people you know who will never say thank you.
19. You have those days where everything makes sense and others where nothing makes sense.
20. Marathons are harder than they look.
21. The transformation from a student to an officer leaving after 2 years is something to put stars in their eyes to shame. An unrecognisable shell of who I used to be.
22. Going through challenging situations and moving forward as a team makes you the strongest force to reckon with.
23. Working with the local community opens so many doors.
24. Its better to be late than turn up ugly. (a real moot point in the office!)
These are only a snapshot of the journey we have had, but none of the memories we have had would be possible without our staff team:
Laura – The most hard working woman I have ever met with a real care and compassion for staff, students and people who she cares about the most.
Ruth – The oracle of all knowledge – manages to sort things better than the sorting hat. Our very own welfairy.
Sarah – “I am never going out with the sabs again”. Legend, caring, buddy.
Jane – Jetsetter, hotrbrush addict, and the reason I am where I am today. The light blue shining armour in all of our lives. Knows how you are feeling before you do.
Ralph – Probably one of the funniest people I have ever met. Heart the size of my overdraft. (Bursting at the banks).
Tan –Most hard working, caring, dedicated members of staff I have met, who definitely make the best brew in the office!
Lesley – The only person that can take any situation and eventuality and make it better.
Alison – aka the Chief. We are so glad you came with your heart gold forever, to pick us up from our all time lows, to fill our heart vacancy. We love our Alison.
Steve – the machine. New starbucks open on campus? Not worried. I will still smash the targets.
Tom – Teeny tiny todge. Legend.
Jess – from starbucks girl to the CH1 woman. Funny, caring, and has a unique, brilliant way of dealing with the boys and the student staff.
Jez – Our newest member of the team who is more supportive of his team than his crutches.
Carol – A Friend with the most caring soul for CSU and staff, the wheel to the cogs who without we just do not work properly.
Ana – always the ray of sunshine even on a wet, cloudy day. Which is most. Can put a smile on everybody’s face.
Linda and Teresa – the dynamic duo!
Sam – if God hadn’t created the world, Sam would have! The most creative, caring, dedicated person.
Claire – Always smiling, always laughing and has the most beautifully cute children.
Penny – CSU’s lucky penny earning us the pounds.
Paul – The man who knows EVERYTHING.
Robin – Has CSU tattooed on his soul.
Dan – Punny guy. Always has everybodys best interests at heart.
Savannah – Chester’s very own Mandela. Heart and soul the size of Africa. Always striving to do better.
Badman- The boss, the President, my best friend.
But my job is not about me or the officers or even the staff, it’s about students. The biggest highlight has been engaging and working with students, hearing your stories, being there through the ups and downs, empowering you to make a difference, and following you on your journey to educational abyss. (Results day). The potential each and every single one of you has blown me away every day.
A few to particularly mention:
Julie Sheen – the woman who just wanted to publish an article in the magazine, 18 months later was awarded the National Student Nurse of the year
Kerrie Sprigings – For educating all of us on the importance of women’s representation, positive role models and smashing the boundaries of sexual harassment
Laura Stott- The most ridiculously clever, inspirational young woman who can take any situation and turn it into something positive
Sian Williamson – along with her partner in crime has transformed the face and purpose of CUPs, empowering students and being inclusive of all. And that head shave!
Darren Asante – just the funniest guy ever!
Callum Hogg – First PG candidate in the elections but who also is my best friend. A man of deep thought, conscientiousness and fabulous taste in food and fine dining….. who still hasn’t taken me on a date.
Catherine Cassidy – The most elegant, hardworking lady I have ever met. Has the presence and will make the whole room fall in love with her. (Not just because you’ve swiped them on Tinder)
Michael Williams – Business man at work, business man at play. Ambitious, driven and completely conscientious of the people around him.
Niamh levelle – the most funniest, most caring person and you will be heading up human rights one day!
And there is so many more, but my time has run out!
Thank you to every student, Union/University staff, NUS bods and officers across the country for everything. I have reached the end of a typical chester cobbled road, with a rucksack of experiences, friendships and life lessons to take away with me. My journey has just begun, but where will yours take you?
Keep in touch and be the change you want to see in the world.