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Societies are diverse, boundary-pushing, record-breaking, fundraising, social-life making, community-creating, student-led groups that make you love your time at UCL. And it’s time to celebrate them.

The societies who’ve won awards this year have been judged as truly exceptional, have a look at who they are and what they’ve done.

Winner: Freya Proudman

This award is presented to an individual or group that the Activities Officer believes has gone above and beyond for student activities. Their impact had been recognised across the Students’ Union by staff and peers alike, though in a way that may not fit the other categories. 

This year’s winner has led their society from strength to strength. They have grown a community and have cultivated a focus on widening their reach and accessibility beyond their standard membership and done so whilst balancing other very high pressure roles and a degree. Staff have been impressed by their sheer determination and work ethic, whilst maintaining their positive attitude towards their society work.

Winner: Engineers without Borders 

Engineers Without Borders (EWB) focuses on sustainable international development as an interdisciplinary academic and professional area. They’re collaborative and inclusive running a diverse range of activities, and partnering with other UCL societies, academics and industry professionals, regularly involving engineers, physical scientists and humanities students.

This year, the society hosted six accessible, beginner-friendly workshops covering the basic principles of solar & wind energy, water purification, data visualisation and LEDs, educating 90 members on sustainable technology. In addition, EWB ran eight talks and panel events as well as the flagship international development hackathon - Designathon - reaching 220 UCL students, tackling topics such as community engagement, gender, energy and water, with speakers from organisations including UNICEF, Royal Academy of Engineering and Atkins, offering attendees networking opportunities with field pioneers.

There are 21 volunteers in their outreach project team who regularly conduct activities encouraging youth to understand sustainable development. All socials aim to build connections within members from different disciplines with the same interest, like a reading week trip engaging with the EWB Cambridge society. Many members have thus pursued opportunities in the field, including summer international volunteering and graduate studies or jobs in sustainable development.

Winner: Gospel Society 

Gospel Society organised a Singathon with Solving Kids Cancer, helping to raise £804 in total for the charity. The society was also involved in a giftwrapping event in collaboration with leadership and management society, ACS and Hip Hop ‘n’ Rnb. 

We were inspired by their charitable commitments including a monthly foodbank drive to Camden Foodbank. 

Winner: Welsh Society 

Welsh Society have been getting Welsh language and culture out throughout this last year. They’ve delivered Welsh lessons, events open to everyone like Rugby and film screenings, and most spectacularly through Hiraeth, a Bloomsbury Spotlight show in February 2020. 
 

The society has begun to put Wales on the map at UCL - their membership has increased significantly over the last year, with social and cultural events having a huge draw for people. 

The Welsh Society was officially part of the Wales in London week, showing that Wales has a voice at UCL. The show, Hiraeth, was an official Wales Week event which gave the society an even greater reach beyond UCL. 

Winner: Sikh Society 

Sikh Society is a faith-based society with core beliefs in equality. The society made a significant focus on diversity and inclusion through a range of initiatives including; 

  • Making sure each event, including socials, had vegetarian food options and non-alcoholic drinks to ensure all members were able to tuck in and take part.
  • Hosting several informal discussion nights, giving all students, regardless of faith, an opportunity to discuss their views, for example, on the representation of Sikh Women on Twitter.
  • Hosting their first-ever careers Panel, with both female and male professionals, giving all students an opportunity to gain an insight into the Law, Finance and Computer Science Industry. 

The Sikh Society collaborated with London Universities to host a Poetry Evening, giving all students an opportunity to express their creativity, and hosted their hosted the first-ever mental health workshops, from creative arts, to an open discussion and a meditation evening. A wonderful chance to encourage all students regardless of faith to talk about their mental-health.

Winner: Surgical Society

The ‘Women in Surgery Conference’ tackled real issues that women face in the surgical field - the lack of female surgeons (58% of medical students in the UK are women but only 12.9% of consultant surgeons are).This conference was a welcome reminder that gender is NOT a disadvantage and that everyone can pursue their goals. The panel/open discussion was innovative, it was possible to listen to unique perspectives of students and surgeons and it was an inspiration for many to see successful women from all backgrounds. This year, 150 delegates, including 60 surgeons, and the first female surgeon in the UAE, Dr Houriya Kazim took part in the conference.

The conference gave a rare opportunity for students to be mentored by women in surgery. Students had the chance to speak to surgeons from a range of specialities and ask questions on topics like motherhood and surgery, to handling sexism in the operating theatre. Before the conference 67% of the delegates felt that the lack of female mentors available had prevented them from pursuing surgery, afterwards, 88.4% of students found that the mentoring provided positively influenced their view on surgery. Overall, the conference was instrumental in helping some students to change their misconceptions about surgery and it has shown that gender is not a barrier when perusing a career in surgery. Prior to the event, 39% of the female students believed that having a family would negatively impact their surgical careers. Following the conference, this was reduced to 20.9%. With very little being done by medical schools to close this gender divide, a conference like this has the power to inspire and engage many.

Winner: Danny Kazzazi, Surgical Society

During 1st year, Danny was an active member of UCL Surgical Society and attended many events throughout the year, including talks such as ‘How to be an ENT Surgeon?’ And ‘So you want to be a surgeon?’. During 3rd year, Danny was elected President of Surgical Society. As an effort to support the society’s ethos of supporting students into surgery and to helping students find their right surgical speciality, Danny focussed a great deal of his work improving attendance and engagement of events, as well as expanding existing opportunities within the society. 

Danny has helped to introduce over 35 speakers and surgical skill events and recruited over 45 subcommittee members and ensured regular social events took place for each speciality to meet. He has actively encouraged committee members to run events and openly listened to their suggestions for new events, e.g. Urology lecture series. 

As part of efforts to increase the opportunity of students, Danny oversaw the Surgical Shadowing Scheme, allowing medical students to shadow surgeons in operating theatres around London in a large range of surgical specialities. Furthermore, with the amazing work of the Women in Surgery team, Danny has helped to lead a ground-breaking conference focussed on challenging the stereotypes of a surgeon (Women In Surgery Conference 2019). With over 150 delegates, 60 surgeons and 20 volunteers, this was the largest UK undergraduate Women in Surgery event. This conference was well received and one of many ways Danny has increased exposure of a career within surgery. 

Having had experience with iNUGSC in 2018/19, Danny and the iNUGSC committee achieved a record of 290 ticket sales within iNUGSC 2020. He used his experience to also direct UCL’s first Plastics and Maxillofacial Surgical Conference which allowed students and doctors from around the country to learn more about getting into Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery, as well as practice specialty-specific skills. 

Finally, Danny started a community outreach programme with the community reach officer. This scheme was able to reach out to many non-selective sixth forms around London to improve social mobility and to inspire younger students to consider a career within surgery. This began the ‘A day in the life’ lecture series, inviting a Gastrointestinal and Neurosurgeon to speak to the sixth formers about their careers. Danny has plans to expand this next year with further help of the medical school.

Winner: Art Business Society

Through online promotion and word of mouth, the Art Business Society has now amassed 110 members and has put on over 20 events this year catering, including educational talks, tours, socials, networking opportunities with professionals in the field and more – reaching and engaging students from a range of disciplines to build an Arts community.

The Art Business society is truly at the forefront of decolonising and opening up the art business world to a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Their plans for next year are to host an end of year summit in collaboration with other prestigious institutions such as the Courtauld. 

Here’s some of the things Art Business Society have done this year:

  • Gained the support of big auction houses, such as Christie’s.
  • A strong social media presence used to promote engagement with the arts, ethical consumer and seller behaviour in the field, and encourage career pursuit in the art field by students from different degrees.
  • Weekly talks with experts from different fields on how art can be incorporated (AI, business, data science, blockchain markets, strategic brand consultancy etc.) including talks on how to buy art with shares to graphic.
  • Multiple gallery visits, including to Sotheby’s which was followed by an auction.
  • Collaborations with other societies (data science, art society, EFS, etc.) to emphasise interdisciplinarity of Art Business.

The UCL Art Business Society has managed to have a stellar breakthrough in terms of memberships and numbers at talks and events. Their event at the V&A Friday Late had a reach of 14,700 with 647 replies to the event (Interested/Going). The society has managed to execute events with prestigious figures in the art world, including Marine Tanguy from Forbes 30 Under 30. The society’s tight links with the two biggest auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s also meant that we were able to randomly select members through a raffle and let them attend auctions which would normally only be open to art collectors and buyers.

Winner: Welsh Society

Welsh Society was founded in January 2019 and is only in their second year. The society grew from 3 members to 52 this year. Previously the society was even at risk of disaffiliation for lack of membership, but the society base is now strong and it continues to grow. The committee has expanded from 2 members in its first year (president + Treasurer) to 5 members this year. In only the society’s second year of existence they’ve had their first ever show - a Bloomsbury Spotlight Theatre Production.

Our very small production team organised a fantastic welsh cultural show with 90+ students involved, more people than we could ever had dreamed of. The Bloomsbury show sold 206 tickets and for a small culture society we are very proud to have achieved this.  

This show featured special performances with Live Music, Guitar, Photo, Argentine Tango, and Salsa Societies- which our production team communicated with for months. The theatre show was listed as an official celebration of the annual Wales Week / London festivities, which is a massive achievement. 
Welsh Society also ran a history documentary night with UCL Medieval Society, and also did a movie night with the LGBTQ+ Network to support LGBTQ+ History Month by showing the movie “Pride”. Welsh Language Lessons were given every other week of the academic year and these lessons were all run and taught by the Welsh Society committee.

Winner: Surgical Society 

Student exposure to surgery around the country is not significant, so the Surgical Society (endorsed by Royal College of Surgeons UK) have been challenging this. This year they’ve set up over 35 incredible events ranging from talks with surgeons speaking about their careers to surgical skills sessions.

They’ve run 3 large surgical conferences at UCL:

  • National Women in Surgery Conference 2019: a ground-breaking conference focused on challenging the stereotypes of a surgeon; over 150 delegates and 60 surgeons making it the largest undergraduate WinS event.
  • iNUGSC 2020: one of the largest student surgical conferences with 290 delegates and over 50 surgeons giving talks and leading surgical-skills sessions. An amazing feat for a student-run society.
  • Inaugural UCL Plastics and Maxillofacial Surgical Conference: a successful first-of-its-kind conference in the UK.

The society has also introduced the surgical shadowing scheme, a scheme which gives medical students the opportunity to shadow surgeons in operating theatres around London in a large range of surgical specialties.

Their new Community Outreach Programme reaches out to non-selective sixth forms around London to improve social mobility and to inspire younger students to consider surgical careers. ‘A day in the life’ lecture series, inviting a Gastrointestinal and Neurosurgeon to speak to sixth formers.