Dania Posso Hernandez (MSc Leadership and Management) is one of UCL East's first student officers. Alongside Peter Kanyike (whom she shares the role with), Dania has been working to create a vibrant student community within an entirely new campus!
I am proud to be leading the process for establishing an inclusive and supportive community at UCL East. Many activities, initiatives and actions have been taken to create the UCL East community.
Our main goal was to create a community in which everyone felt included. We communicated through social media channels, and ran a survey to understand which kind of activities and interest our community had. Through this, it was identified that students had two major concerns, the cohesion among the group and spending the end-of-year break at a foreign country.
Taking into account these concerns, I collaborated to put together a Christmas party, available for all students at the East campus. We offered free drinks and snacks, played nice music and set up some activities so students could mingle amongst each other. Moreover, with the goal in mind and at this time open communication channels, I started surveying about what changes would make the campus more welcoming and comfortable for students. Peter and I formally requested microwaves, extension of study hours, availability of laptop loans, daily classrooms blocked for 2 hours for students to have lunch in there, and a cluster room. All these changes were approved and are now granted at campus for all students.
To encourage participation of other students, we offered the opportunity to participate in five UCL East committees (social events, student wellbeing and support, sustainability, sports and volunteering). The interested students became empowered, some of them establishing the first societies at UCL East, engaging with the Students' Union to hold more events at East and, more importantly, spreading the sense that we are all a supportive community. I saw them helping students, saying hi to lost students and in general fostering our desired community.
Me and two other students, planned an event to celebrate International Women's Day by inviting two professors to talk about their personal's life and career, and we also put up a international showcase, were students performed songs and poems to celebrate women and bring something from their culture as well.
Also, as part of GBSH department, we organized the international picnic event, in which we brought food from our countries for everyone else to have a taste, we decorated the building with flags from all around the world and we had a very nice evening. I recognize we are still on the beginning of a long path of the establishment of the East community, but also, I believe we have had a great start!
The picnic was my highlight of the year - I started to appreciate the inclusivity and supportiveness that our community was displaying.
I am currently gathering information from focus groups, summarising what the situation has been for UCL East students. This will form a base document so that when new campuses are created these experiences can be taken into account to ensure the students have a good experience. We are holding a summer social event that is still on planning stage as well, but I can tell it will be a very nice evening to celebrate the achievements of this academic year!