Are you considering becoming a student rep / Collective Convenor this academic year? Read what representing their peers has meant to some of our recent reps!
Shanika Ranasinghe (School of PDA - Music) - PhD rep 2021-22
I really enjoyed being a student rep in 2021/22 and in the years before that: it helped me to feel part of a wider PGR community, especially during the pandemic when I was hardly ever on campus. I've made connections and friends in other Schools and Depts. through getting to know other student reps: it's been really inspiring to connect with people working on similar themes to my own project, but in different disciplines and via different approaches. I was even approached to help out with an EDI project over the summer, due to College staff knowing about me and my interests via my student rep role. It's quite a minimal time commitment, but you feel like you are genuinely contributing to College life.
Shupin Liu (School of PDA - Drama) - PhD Collective Convenor 2021-22
As a first year PhD student, things can be very challenging and intimidating. To me, moving from a taught master straight to a PhD degree, the sudden freedom to be a self-directed researcher was very difficult to cope. Taking the collective convenor role helps me to be familiar with the university and the role as a researcher faster and easier.
Being a PGR collective convenor means I must be actively in contact with other student reps and our amazing staff, to understand other PGR students’ needs and to explore how our university can better support our studies. Although it is a role to serve and help other people, I feel more supported along the way. In our student staff meetings, we can talk about shared concerns and difficulties as research students, which makes me feel that I am not facing these challenges alone, but there are many people on this journey together. In the meetings I also have the chance to contribute to the school and department development process, for example to figure out ways to make the campus space usage more efficient and convenient for PGR students.
The experience of being a collective convenor makes me feel more engaged with the university and gives me a sense of belonging. Because of this experience, I got to witness how knee our PGR staff are to help and support us with our lives and research, making me less lonely and more confident with my research journey in Royal Holloway.
Adriana Dias (School of EPMS - Physics) - PhD rep 2021-22
I have been a PGR Academic Rep for Physics for the past 3 years and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
This role has given me the opportunity to interact with other PhD students, not only from within my department, but also from the School and the University, and the exchange of thoughts and experiences was very rewarding.
The role also allowed me to provide feedback and suggestions to the Doctoral School and to raise urgent issues more directly with their School representative, with whom I was able to build rapport.
If you are keen to listen to your peers and reporting on their thoughts and feedback to your School then I believe you would enjoy this role. The meetings only take place once per term so it’s not a huge time commitment.
Kate Pozgay (School of Humanities - History) - PhD rep 2021-22
I really enjoy my role as History Rep to the SCC. It has helped me navigate the ins and outs of the School of Humanities and has been an excellent way to connect with my peers. I am looking forward to continuing this outreach work in new and improved ways and would love to do so alongside with any of my history colleagues keen on joining the SCC!
Arvind Kumar (School of LSS - PIRP) - PhD rep 2021-22
I acted as PGR representative of PIR since last two years. Acting as PGR representative provided me multiple opportunities and prime among those is leadership to my colleagues which included presenting their grievances as well as demands at right platforms. This position also provided me an opportunity to engage with faculties and colleagues from other departments as well which helped in building network across discipline. This position is further counted as part of academic citizenship which sometimes become helpful for future opportunities, therefore, I would recommend new students to grab this position.
Laura Hemmingham (School of LSE - Geography) - PhD rep 2021-22
I became a PGR Rep for the Geography department not too long after joining the university. As it was my first time coming to Royal Holloway as a PhD student, not only has the role encouraged me to widen my social network within the department, but it also really helped me feel part of the community.
Taylor Robinson (School of EPMS - Information Security CDT) - PhD Collective Convenor 2021-22
This year I have been honoured to serve as the 2021/22 PGR Collective Convenor. As the Collective Convenor, I have attended my School's RSOC (Research Students Oversight Committee), the Doctoral School Committee meeting, and Student Union meetings to represent the PGR community on education, well-being, and diversity matters. Throughout the year, I have been involved in discussions about several vital issues, such as PGR mental health, continued COVID-19/travel safety, PGR social and networking events, and viva requirements.
Becoming involved with these discussions has shaped my understanding of the breadth and depth of the doctoral school and PGR community at Royal Holloway. I have greatly benefited from being part of discussions that will hopefully influence the future of the PGR community and help create an even better environment to study.
I would recommend becoming involved in the Collective Convenor role or as a PGR representative to any PGR student who enjoys contributing to their academic community and has a passion for representing the needs of all colleagues equally. These roles are also an excellent way to become involved in the wider PGR community and do not require immense time or commitment.
Cathy Dondelinger (School of Humanities - English) - PhD rep 2021-22
I took on the role of student rep for the PhD English Department for two years. I started in my first year and enjoyed it so much that I decided to continue into my second. Being a student rep is a role that is very rewarding. It allows you to step away and take a break from some of the daily research and writing tasks of PhD students and focus on something different for a few hours. I often found that, it actually made me more productive in my PhD to have something else to focus on every once in a while.
It is also incredibly interesting to join the Student Staff Committee meetings and any other meetings that reps may be invited to and find out more about the inner functioning of university life. RHUL has wonderful people working for them, so the meetings are always a joy to take part in. They are very friendly and welcoming, and it is great to feel that you can really contribute to finding solutions to issues raised by the student body or individuals.
As PhD life can be a little isolating and lonely at times, being a rep is also a great way to meet lots of new people, students and staff alike. I became friends with other student reps that I still talk to on a regular basis 2 years later. Not to mention of course, being a student rep also looks great on a CV!
Reps are important to the functioning communication between the student body and the university administration so if this is something that incoming (or existing!) students are thinking of doing and are interested in, I’d say definitely go for it.
Ryan Payton (School of LSE - Earth Sciences) - PhD rep 2019-20 & 2020-21
Read his testimonial here (originally posted in 14 October 2021)
Kate Ferry-Swainson (School of Humanities - French) - PhD rep 2020-21
Read her testimonial here (originally posted in 14 October 2021)