By Chloe Olivia Sladden
Rhiannon Ellis, a third year Criminology and Criminal Justice student has been elected to be your next Herts Student Union President for the next academic year.
The decision to stand in the election was an easy one for to make, Rhiannon said: “I really enjoyed being an SCO this year [and previously a student rep] and I wanted the opportunity to continue representing student voice but at a much larger scale. I also spoke with Karthik the current SU President before applying and he really motivated me to run. I was so shocked when I found out I had won but I was absolutely over the moon and so grateful to everyone that voted for me. I am so excited to start in July!”
She believes her previous roles as a SCO (School Community Officer) and Student Rep helped her gain the experience and skills needed to be President. Rhiannon said: I gained experience in advocating for the student voice and making changes to my course and the University as a whole. I also developed my leadership skills through my SCO position as I was responsible for all the undergraduate student reps across Hertfordshire Law School.”
Rhiannon added: “I would also say that I really enjoyed getting to know all of the reps and forming close friendships. I also really enjoyed running social and careers events for students as it allowed everyone to step away from their studies and meet new people/learn new skills.”
When asked about the strengths and skills that help her to be a good President, Rhiannon said: “I work really well under pressure, and I am very organised which will help as President because the role can be demanding. I also believe that I have the confidence and motivation to raise any concerns students may be facing in addition to actively listening.” Rhiannon also hopes to bring something to the role, to make it her own to help to her have good rapport with the people she will be working with. She said she “hopes to bring a friendly and approachable vibe to the role which will help me to build rapport with both staff and students” in her new role.
The specific day to day work that will be involved, once Rhiannon starts her role properly will include attending meetings “with a variety of people across the University to ensure that the student voice is heard when it comes to any decisions. I will also be working closely with student representatives and SCOs to fully understand what students are being faced with at each individual school level.” Rhiannon hopes to bring something new to the role with “drop-in sessions in person and online so that students can come and speak to me if they need help or just to have a general chat.”
For her degree studies, she decided to study Criminology and Criminal Justice after she took a criminology-based module at her initial degree course in Sociology at Sheffield Hallam University. Rhiannon said: “I then decided to leave Sheffield [after six months] because I wasn’t enjoying my course and I decided to apply to Hertfordshire to pursue this degree as I really enjoyed that Criminology module. I also liked that this degree had such a variety of modules and I have been able to cater my options towards my future career.”
In the future, Rhiannon is interested in becoming a detective. She said: “I have always been fascinated by crime documentaries and the investigative side of the police and being a detective will allow me to carry out investigations on my own”, after her year as Student Union President has finished.
Outside of University work and studies, Rhiannon said: “I really like doing yoga, running and photography. I have also been working part time for one of the emergency services as a 999 and non-emergency call handler in addition to volunteering for this service in a front-line position” during the pandemic.
Rhiannon’s main goals for the next year as President of the Student Union include making “every single student feel supported. I really want to focus on the mental health of students because I know that so many people, including myself, have been negatively affected by the pandemic. I think as we are coming out of the pandemic lots of students will need more support with their mental health and there needs to be sufficient extra support in place. I also want to ensure that student loneliness is tackled especially for first year students who may not know anyone when joining University and may find it difficult to make new friends.”
Look out for Rhiannon, and her first acts as President once she starts her properly starts her role in July.