It goes without saying, 2020 hasn’t quite been the year we were expecting. Yet through the challenges wrought by a global pandemic, we asked Bristol students to give a special shoutout to anyone they thought has gone above and beyond to still provide hope and optimism in the face of such difficulty. Here were some of your remarkable students, as nominated by you.
As a third year medical student, it is remarkable that Khadija manages to find time to carry out anything around her busy schedule. Yet, in her role as Chair of Bristol SU’s BME Network, she has worked on numerous actions, including leading an anti-Islamophobia march through Bristol at the end of term – a march that had initially been postponed due to coronavirus restrictions introduced by the government.
In addition, she began work on longer-term change for BME students at Bristol, with the aim of pushing the University to offer mental health services with greater cultural competency. As 2020 was a year that largely inhibited all University life, we will undoubtedly see more tremendous efforts from Khadija throughout the new year.
Khadija’s nominator said:
‘Khadija is the BME Network Chair and has achieved loads in her role already, despite complications brought about by Covid-19. She led the first ever online-only Black History Month with a series of fantastic events including speaker Afua Hirsch. This was immediately followed by an event series for Islamophobia Awareness Month, as well as collaborating with other networks to raise awareness of issues such as disability and sustainability.
‘Khadija has worked closely with the Undergraduate Education Officer to set up Decolonising the Curriculum working groups in schools across the university. She also recently organised and led a march against Islamophobia through Bristol. All this is in addition to studying full time for a medical degree and holding a number of other roles. Khadija is an inspiration!’
In a year when we all needed it, Olivier has been the champion of wellbeing. As Chair of Bristol SU’s Wellbeing Network, Olivier set up a ‘buddy scheme’ to bring Bristol students together, online or in-person, flexibly adhering to the ever-changing pandemic restrictions. The scheme has had over 300 sign-ups and is still increasing. With the virus giving no seeming letup, it will likely grow in demand next term.
Olivier’s nominator said:
‘Olivier took up the position of Chair of the Wellbeing Network during an incredibly difficult time for students; with students not really knowing what they were walking into in September (whether they were new students or returners). The many physical opportunities that previously existed for students to meet each other, socialise and form friendships were limited to groups of 15-20 students, which although made everyone safer, also meant there were more students than ever before who found it difficult to settle in, form bonds, and lose that feeling of isolation. Olivier saw this and decided to take action.
‘Through weeks of hard work putting things together, spreading the message far and wide, they received hundreds of responses from students who wanted a buddy. The Network then launched the scheme with an online event so people could meet up, chat, and hopefully make those friendships!’
As President of The 93% Club Bristol – the group that represents the state school intake at the University of Bristol – Alice has quite literally worked tirelessly to improve opportunities for those from less privileged backgrounds. After her term abroad in Sydney was cut short, Alice persevered on Australian time.
Making all these efforts worthwhile, The 93% Club won the Bright Network’s Society of the Year Award for ‘Most Impact on Campus’, topping the year off with a well-deserved prize that will enable them to take on even more projects in 2021 – under Alice’s popular stewardship.
Alice’s nominator said:
‘Alice became president of the 93% Club Bristol and has worked really hard to establish new 93% clubs across the country. Even though she got sent home from a term abroad in Sydney in TB2 (March), and was doing Uni in the U.K. but on Australia time (so often had seminars at 3am, and loads of coursework), she has worked so, so hard to expand the 93% Club.
‘This society is one that helps to increase equal opportunity and bridge the wealth gap, and she has accomplished some really amazing things this year, despite weird circumstances. The work she has done is so important and has included networking with other Unis and companies, outreach, marketing, and a whole range of things.’
And with a year that has mostly confined us to the great indoors – and offered us Zoom fatigue, seminars from bed and interminable amounts of therapeutic baking – you needn’t be a Network Chair or Club President to feel fulfilled. Sometimes, as the following honourable shoutouts show, just cheering up a friend is enough, especially through challenging times.
To Emma Hanson:
‘Emma always has a smile on her face. Earlier this year Emma started her own jewellery business and being able to remain as positive as her has been a lovely light to many people in this somewhat dark and unpleasant year!’
To Dauebi Atte:
‘This friend has gone above and beyond to check in on me and those around him while doing their best to meet the goals they set for themselves this academic year. They might not know it, but they are very attentive, intuitive and understanding of just how to meet someone at their point of need.
‘Moreover, Dauebi checked in on me throughout multiple periods of self-isolation, having to move accommodations while trying to remain Covid-safe during both lockdowns in the UK. I’m very proud to see the man he’s becoming and I’m glad to be his friend.’
To Luke Dorrington:
‘Shaved his head, looks cool!’
Featured Image: Khadija Meghrawi / Olivier Levy / Alice Bassett
Who’s helped you through 2020?