Awardwinning academic rep explains why shes not quite ready to leave Leicester

Dedicated student Aysha Ahmed may be closing the chapter on one part of her student journey at the University of Leicester this week, but she isn’t quite ready to leave us yet.

After completing her Medical Physiology BSc, during which time she held the position of academic representative, Aysha will be starting her MBChB Medicine course in September, where she will be joining other students in training to become a doctor.

“I’m really looking forward to it,” she said, “especially because I get to stay right here in Leicester for a little longer!”

Aysha has made a long-running contribution to the University’s student body. In June, she was recognised with a Student Award for her dedication in the role of academic rep for her course - a responsibility that she took on in her first year, and after enjoying it so much, retained for the entirety of her degree.

Working with staff to ensure that her cohort could have the best student experience possible, Aysha describes why making a difference was so important to her:

“When I arrived at University, I wanted to get involved as much as I could and make the most of my time here. I also wanted my University experience to be more than just about me,” she said. “I thought carefully about how I could use my strengths and skills to contribute positively to the University and the community of students around me. So, when the opportunity to be the academic rep for my course came up, I saw it as a chance to bring change in an imaginative way, get to know people on my course, and develop new skills.”

During her three years as academic rep, Aysha has chaired the student-staff committee, worked with the Leicester Learning Institute to help improve assessment feedback, and contributed to the student careers forum- amongst a host of other activities.

In June, she was presented with a 2018 Student Award in recognition of her commitment to the role. “Winning the Academic Rep of the Year Award was a real privilege; it felt great to know that I’d made a positive difference,” she said.

“One of the many highlights of being an academic rep was my involvement in developing support sessions for other students. I initially started mentoring students who needed advice navigating their way through to their final year projects, and then ended up leading a session on a bigger scale so any student who needed some direction could access the support they wanted.

“I got my fellow third year students involved too, and after our exams this year, a team of us volunteered to deliver time-management skills and Q&A sessions to all second year Biological Sciences students to help prepare them for their busy final year - the sessions received some really good feedback!”

Reflecting upon the past three years, Aysha said: “What I loved most about my experience at University was meeting so many fantastic people along the way. Especially as an academic rep, I worked closely with staff and students from across the University, and learnt a lot from each person I met.”

“Approaching graduation, it feels impossible not to be in awe of how much I have been able to learn and develop within my time at University. I’m really looking forward to graduation, and sharing that moment with my incredible friends - it’s an achievement that I know I’ll always look back on with pride and good memories.”

“There have been many highlights during my time at University, a few of which include: playing Sunday morning netball matches alongside people on my course even though I’m awful at netball; exploring the human body with a cadaver and learning about anatomy from experts; being awarded a travelling scholarship to explore the fascinating history of Granada last summer; and having a truly great mentor to learn from. And, of course, sharing a flat with a group of amazing people has also brought many unforgettable memories to my University experience.”

“Through each stage of my journey, I’ve had the best support from my friends, colleagues and staff here at Leicester, and this is the one thing I always proudly tell people about our University: the homely, friendly atmosphere here, and the culture of supporting others.

“Looking back on my time here, I know I made the right decision to join the University - I’ve made incredible friends, learnt and grown more than I thought I would, and collected a wealth of experiences from all the opportunities that came my way.”

“Looking at what’s ahead: I’m excited about joining the Medical School in September- although I’m sure it’ll be challenging. I’m also very keen to stay involved in and contribute to all the brilliant work going on across the University, as well as getting involved in some social outreach in Leicester City. I’ve got a lot of exciting things to look forward to! ”

Richard Wilcock, Deputy Director of the Career Development Service, said: “One of the fantastic aspects of being part of the University of Leicester is the opportunity to support students realise their dreams and aspirations. So mentoring Aysha, as part of the University’s student mentoring programme, has been the real highlight of the academic year for me and working with someone so dedicated to improving the lives of others has been humbling.

“To have played just a small part in helping Aysha take her first steps towards a career in medicine, where her warmth, talent and dedication will allow her to make a massive difference to countless people in the future, has been both a pleasure and privilege”.