The Rep of the Month Award recognises Course Reps and Department Reps who have gone above and beyond in their role. Students, staff and Reps are welcome to nominate any Rep who is putting extra effort into their role, doing their best to represent everyone and change things for the better.
Winners receive a Rep of the Month mug and a £10 Amazon voucher. Nominate someone today to be our next winner!
Academic Year 2018/19
Kacper Szyfelbajn - March Rep of the Month
This month's winner is Kacper: a Course Rep in his first year of Software Engineering. Kacper was nominated by peers for his dedication to the role, and for instigating significant improvements to lectures and seminars. We liked Kacper's proactive approach and how he encouraged students to propose solutions not just raise issues; ensuring dialogue with staff stayed positive and solution-orientated.
Great work Kacper!
Why did you decide to be a Course Rep?
"It's my second attempt at university so I'm a bit older and have a bit more experience than some of my course mates. One of the reasons I signed up for it was because I didn't like the course much at my previous University, as well as the way the Course Reps worked. Our module leader was also saying, "We listen; just tell us what you need changing and we'll change it."
What have you most enjoyed about being a Rep?
"I've liked seeing that you're actually making a difference. That is probably the most satisfying part of it. In just two weeks from our first Staff-Student Meeting, there was a difference in how the course was run because they knew exactly what the students wanted. At the end of the day, if you are listening to what people are saying and moving it forward, it doesn't take much, but the difference you make is huge. It doesn't just improve everyone else's experience; it improves your course and your experience as a student as well! That's what it is for me; you actually see a difference and make an impact. And hopefully the differences we made this year will transfer to next year's first years!"
How do you gather feedback and ensure you are representing a wide range of students on your course?
"People are terrible at replying to emails, including myself; so I just tend to have conversations with people. I know that a lot of people don't like to voice their own opinion. They just try to deal with the problem as they feel like it's just them. I've been there myself; but by chatting to students, they tell you things and they realise that it's not just them. I also think feedback is a lot better if it is done anonymously as students can worry that they've offended a teacher and that it may then impact their mark."
"I sit in different places in lectures, as people tend to sit in the same places, and I ask questions. I try to speak to people one-on-one as much as possible and encourage them to tell me how their course could be improved rather than focusing on the problem. Lecturers typically already know what's wrong with the course so presenting them with solutions helps to keep the conversation positive, and helps to move things forwards."
Would you recommend the role of Course Rep and why?
"If you think you can do it then just go for it! By waiting a year you may have wasted an opportunity, so if it's something you want to do, just go for it. Everything you need to know is said to you during training or it's provided in the (Course Rep) handbook."
Sophie Blakely - February Rep of the Month
Our winner this month is Sophie; a Course Rep who is in her 3rd year of a degree in Education with Psychology and Counselling. She was picked as February's Rep of the Month for being an amazing Course Rep and always standing up for students. We also loved hearing Sophie's story about overcoming a lack of confidence through her Rep role.
Keep up the great work Sophie!
Why did you become a Course Rep & how has the role contributed to your experience at Sheffield Hallam University?
"I wasn't a very confident person in first year and I wouldn't really talk to anyone, so when I heard of the opportunity to become a Course Rep I thought I'll give it a shot and see how it goes! It worked out well for me and I started to build my confidence both as a Rep but also as a student as I began contributing more in lectures and seminars. The role has also helped me to learn a lot more about how the University works and has given me an opportunity to help other students, which is a really nice feeling."
Do you have any specific examples of how you have supported students during your time as a Course Rep?
"I have helped make some positive changes concerning some of our modules and staff communication, that although didn't result in immediate change, should have improved the experience for the students in the years below. I have also done a lot of signposting students to the right resource or form of support which I think even if I wasn't a Course Rep I would be doing anyway".
How do you go about collecting student feedback?
"I think I'm pretty perceptive, so I mostly gain student feedback by making a note of what students say before and after lectures or seminars. I have previously tried to gain feedback via more formal methods but the response was minimal, so now if I hear students talking about a specific issue a lot then I will raise it in our Student Rep meetings. I think this method has allowed me to gain more honest feedback. We also have an active Facebook group chat where students from our year often post questions or issues they are having and other students will point them in the right direction."
What do you like most about your time at Sheffield Hallam beyond your academic studies?
"I really like the general community, especially in the Students' Union. It's nice to hang out in HUBS; everyone is so nice and I think this has helped me to be more comfortable than I would have been at another University."
Why would you encourage others to be a Rep?
"Mainly confidence building. I also think it's just a great opportunity to help other students which is a really nice feeling."
Clare Manley - January Rep of the Month
Our winner this month is Clare; a commuter student in her second year of a degree in Mental Health Nursing, who is both a Course and Department Rep! She was picked as January's Rep of the Month due to her dedication to her Student Rep role, going above and beyond to ensure other students feel supported and heard. When speaking with Clare, we loved to hear how engaged she is beyond her studies, taking advantage of the many opportunities available to students both at the University and the Students' Union, as well as her enthusiasm towards bringing about change and reform to nursing at a national level.
Why did you become a Student Rep?
"I think I am naturally quite organised and I like to think about the future generations of people to come. I feel as a Course Rep you have more of an impact on the now, and as a Department Rep it is more about influencing future developments and making changes for people to come. I am also interested in systems and processes, and in my career prior to studying nursing, I was one of the first people to bring the idea of the customer journey to the UK. I think that is why I am passionate about the student journey."
Do you have any specific examples of how you have supported students during your time as a Course or Department Rep?
"I have done a lot of signposting, helping students to better understand the different processes and guiding them on what route to take for their specific issue. I have also taken a lot of student issues to staff and then listened to the staff perspective before relaying it back to students, which is the part I think is often missed by Student Reps. It is important to communicate to students when staff have heard and understood their issue but when in some cases they are unable to bring about a given change or resolution at that time. At other times it has just been about going and sitting next to students to give them the confidence to confront an issue. Whether it's advising them to write down their thoughts before a meeting or letting them talk it through with me beforehand."
Is there anything else you are involved with besides your Student Rep role?
"I am a Royal College of Nursing (RCN) Student Information Officer, where I campaign on behalf of student nurses. Our local MP in Sheffield is amazing and they actually read my letter on student funding for nurses in the Houses of Parliament which helped bring it to the debate. I am also providing a student perspective on the new Integrated Care Curriculum for students in the Faculty of Health and Wellbeing. I'm on the Volunteering Committee at the Students' Union and I am about to go to China with the University's Go Global scheme!
"Outside of University, I am working with people across the UK to develop and curate a national Twitter account for nurses. The idea is that it will be a place of informal support and advice for nurses through peer-to-peer communication in a sector that traditionally stays clear of social media. I also serve as a Guide Leader in my local community for which I am leading a group of girls on a trip to Mexico. Then on top of all that, I'm a mum to four children. Oh, and I'm doing a nursing degree!"
Why would you encourage others to be a Rep?
"I think you get to see the bigger picture. You start to realise how things are working and why they are happening. It is really easy to get drawn into the nitty gritty and the detail, but I think it is important to put your head up and see the wider picture. I've got 20 years of work experience but I think for younger people who have come straight out of school, it is such a good skill to development and I think being a Course Rep gives them that opportunity."
Amy Miatt - November Rep of the Month
Amy is studying an Extended Degree in Engineering and Mathematics and has won November's Rep of the Month for a number of reasons including:
Her approachability, can do attitude and willingness to help
For being a supportive figure for her classmates; referring students to support services at the Students' Union when they are struggling with personal issues and encouraging them to join societies and make new friends
Speaking up for mature students ensuring that they feel apart of the wider student community
Why were you nominated for the Rep of the Month?
"The majority of votes were saying that I had helped them with troubles they were having at home; anxiety, and things like that. We had a few students facing more severe issues and I helped them build a case to take to the Students' Union. It's been a mixture of helping students when they've said 'I can't do it, I'm going to quit' because if I've been out of education for 9 years and I can do it, you can too! I've been helping them with their course, building cases (for people). I've given them the push to join societies and make friends."
Why did you become a Course Rep?
"I became a course rep because I feel everyone deserves a chance to get support and I feel that a course rep's job is to let everyone know that we have that support, whether that be that because you’ve moved away from home you feel like you’ve got nobody to talk to or you feel that as a Mature Student like me that everyone will avoid me like the plague cos I'm a few years older. I feel like everyone should have the chance to have someone to talk to and someone representing them and their views. Everyone should have a say on the course and if things aren't working what do they want to change. I feel like I'm very approachable and have that natural instinct. I feel like people come to me if they need help or advice and I can pass that on or direct them to where they need to go, or just someone to listen to."
Why would you encourage others to be a Rep?
"I'd encourage everyone to do it because it gives everyone a voice and it's nice to know that people can come and talk to you and you have that ability to pass on other people's views and that ability to listen to other people and understand them. It makes you feel better as well because at the end of the day I'm going home knowing I've helped someone, even if it's just the smallest thing and that we've had so much feedback. I've sent out a student survey and it's really nice to say "oh, this is working, this isn't" and you can pass it all on rather than it just being your own views."
"Just go for it. If you feel like you can offer people help and advice and even just be there for people who might have no-one, just go for it and be that person that everyone can go to if they've got an issue!"
Academic Year 2017/18
Brittany Northcott - April Rep of the Month
Brittany is both a Course and Department Rep, and has been awarded the April Rep of the Month awarded for:
- Creating a society in response to students saying they wanted a stronger sense of community on their course
- Addressing issues regarding elective modules after one failed to run
In her role, Brittany has enjoyed knowing where students voice's actually go, and understanding all perspectives that comes from being both a Course and Department Rep.
She recommends taking on the position as it allows you to become friendlier with your course mates, grow personal confidence, and an understanding of how your opinion is valued. Brilliant work, Brittany!
Waleed Dilawar Chugtai - March Rep of the Month
Waleed is an Undergraduate Computer Networks student who has been awarded March's Rep of the Month award. He was nominated for:
- Being a friendly and approachable rep, who is always happy to help.
- For asking the opinions of students directly, making them feel more engaged with their course.
Waleed took on the Course Rep role because he was new to the University and wanted to learn from others whilst gaining leadership skills. Whilst in his role he has changed timetabling after students expressed issues with it, and helped a new lecturer be introduced to the students.
He recommends becoming a Course Rep because of how it allows you to engage with students, especially if you're a fresher, as it gives you the opportunity to make new friends. Congratulations, Waleed!
Helen Elkington - February Rep of the Month
Helen is a Postgraduate student studying MSc Mechanical Engineering who has been awarded February’s Rep of the Month award. Helen received multiple nominations for:
- Being really approachable, hardworking and listening to everyone’s opinions to try to help
- Getting the lecture slides put up in advance of the lecture, so people wouldn’t struggle following the content
- Following up on the specifics of assessments so students knew exactly what they were being marked on
- Helping international students to use Blackboard
Helen decided to become a Course Rep as she never got the opportunity during her Undergrad. Skills development and employability was also a motivating factor!
She would recommend the Course Rep position because she has found it rewarding to listen to issues from and help make positive changes to make them happy. Brilliant work, Helen!
Rob Webster - January Rep of the Month
Rob is a Secondary Maths with QTS student who was awarded January's Rep of the Month title! He was nominated for:
- For creating a Course Rep survey, the feedback from which was collated and presented to staff members.
- For taking everyone's concerns on board, and going above and beyond to get them resolved.
- For outstanding and unfailing commitment to the position.
He initially took the position on purely because he was the only one who volunteered, but since then has found it to be incredibly interesting and rewarding, relishing in the opportunity to try and make changes on his course.
He recommends the Course Rep position because of the new skills he's learned throughout it, whilst dealing with different groups of people and collecting feedback. Congratulations, Rob!
Sarah Ellis - November Rep of the Month
Sarah is a Psychology student who was awarded November's Rep of the Month title! She was nominated for:
- Creating surveys for both Level 5 and Level 6 Course Reps and putting the feedback into Word documents to send to the other Reps.
- Making a PowerPoint slide ready for the screencasts to deliver the staff comments to students on her course.
- Her approachability and hard-working nature.
Sarah took on the Course Rep role as a way of building her confidence and to promote student voice. Since becoming a rep, she has gathered and sent feedback to meetings, and even won the Course Rep of the Year Award last year. Some of the feedback she has collected has been used by staff members to alter modules for the better for future students.
She recommends the Course Rep role for the increased responsibility it gives students and how it can improve your confidence when speaking infront of others. Keep up the fantastic work, Sarah!
Hollie Ford - October Rep of the Month
Hollie is a Science and Education with QTS student who was awarded October's Rep of the Month title! She was nominated for:
- Improving lecture times and making them more worthwhile.
- Helping with placements and the running of that scheme.
- Making staff aware of social issues students may be having that could impact their studying.
Hollie recommends the Course Rep programme as a way of learning more about University processes, whilst also believing it to be productive for the reps themselves as it teaches you how to prioritise and negotiation skills. It's also a great way to get involved, Hollie believes. Congratulations, Hollie!