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Suthida Chang is a postgraduate student in The Bartlett, studying Innovation, Public Policy and Public Value. Since October 2020, Suthida has been volunteering as a Specialist Mentor with Project Access, one of our partner organisations which works to support students from non-traditional backgrounds to access the UK’s top universities. 


Tell us a little about your volunteering.

I’ve been volunteering with Project Access, an international social enterprise that empowers students from non-traditional backgrounds to apply to top universities, since October 2020. Initially signing up as a mentor to provide insights to studying in the UK as an international student, I became a Specialist Mentor for the UK Grad Program almost immediately after beginning my volunteer journey. After working with other volunteers to create a database of resources for prospective applicants, I’m now carrying on the Specialist Mentor title in the organisation’s latest Prep Program project. And I plan to continue as a volunteer after finishing my master’s at UCL.

How did you find out about the role?

From the volunteering directory.

Why did you want to become a volunteer?

I’ve been a volunteer for different projects and causes since secondary school and I continue to seek volunteer opportunities everywhere I go so that I can continue learning and giving back to my immediate community. :)

What difference do you feel you’ve made by volunteering?

I’ve been involved in two specialist programs and created quite a few resources around applying/studying in the UK whereby these resources have been shared with dozens of mentees. Every time someone reads those articles or messages me on Slack to ask about my academic journey and/or internship experiences, I realise that my writing has encouraged someone to reach out for advice about their future (studies). And that is an amazing feeling knowing that I am inspiring students to study abroad and expand their horizons!

What impact has volunteering had on you?

I’ve become a more confident writer/blogger who is learning how to communicate across cultures by writing to audiences of different age groups. Volunteering with Project Access has also made me more appreciative of my personal, professional and academic experiences, and helped me find a way to use my skills and knowledge for good. Most of all, my understanding of the global inequality of access to higher education has improved, and I’ve become more passionate about removing structural barriers to empower international students to study in the UK.

What’s the best thing about volunteering?

Whether it’s making new friends (virtually), researching topics that are close to heart, or sharing my experiences with people from all around the world, the best thing about volunteering is that brings me lots of joy :)

Volunteering is a great way for students like us to learn about how we can use our existing skills and knowledge to help uplift our immediate community.

And the most challenging? How did you overcome the challenges?

Time management has got to be the most challenging part of my experience so far. Because I was writing 2-4 articles per week, it took time to plan what I’d write, research to ensure the accuracy of the information that I’m writing about and to proofread the articles. Planning ahead and knowing my purpose always helps.

Tell us about something memorable that’s happened to you whilst volunteering?

I was invited as a panellist to share my experiences applying to postgraduate studies in the UK/UCL. It was really cool to be able to reflect on my personal and academic journey, and to know that there are prospective applicants whom I might be able to inspire via that webinar is amazing! Having my picture featured on the Project Access website is also really cool!

Would you recommend volunteering? If so, why?

10000% recommend! Even though COVID-19 disrupted face-to-face volunteering, there are plenty of new and emerging virtual opportunities to help the people around us. Volunteering also provides an opportunity for peer-mentoring aka meeting new people who share the same passions as you!

Inspired to start your own volunteering journey? Don’t miss our announcements and subscribe to our newsletter to find out when the next one will be held. You can also support charities anytime from home - check out our virtual volunteering roles here