Students Staff

10 July 2018

It’s goodbye from Ernest, our VP Southend

Filed under: News — Heather Leathley @ 2.11 pm

‘It’s truly hard to believe how quickly the last two years have flown by and that I’m writing my final words to you all.

An image of Ernest Nyarko

Ernest Nyarko

From the very first day,  I always put the needs of students at the heart of everything I did and without doubt it has been a pleasure to serve and represent all of you. I have truly enjoyed getting to know so many of you while we worked together to improve the lives of all the students here in Southend.

While representing you, I worked tirelessly with staff members to ensure that our students were not left behind when decisions were being made within the University and Students’ Union. Together we have achieved tremendous success and contributed positively to our campus.

  • We created several successful events and campaigns, improved student engagement across departments, promoted our Mental health and wellbeing project, created and secured funding for our first two Dragons’ Den sessions and first ever Google start-up trip.
  • We set up our student parliament, provided support for our students at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and created BAME Forums,
  • We celebrated Black History month, secured temporary alcohol licences for student led events in our SU Lounge, secured free Amazon Prime view in both the SU Lounge and common room in University Square and arranged short-term accommodation options for our commuting students and affordable car parking rates.

These are just a few of our achievements, and I believe our efforts over these past years have begun to lay a foundation upon which the Students’ Union will continue to build in years to come.

My advice to you is to make sure to utilise the opportunities offered by both Essex and our Students’ Union. Challenge yourself with new sports; take up opportunities from the activities offered on Campus to meet people from different backgrounds as well as people from other courses.

As an international student, I took advantage of all these opportunities to meet a lot of new people and made good friends across the globe who will always be part of my life. So I entreat you to make the most of everything out there guys; and you will never regret it.

It has been a pleasure to be your Students’ Union Vice President and I will forever cherish it. It has given me fantastic memories and experiences I will always treasure. I wish you all the best in the future and good luck to your new VP Andrea Lungay.’

Ernest signing out


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6 July 2018

From baking cakes to running a national volunteering organisation

Filed under: News — mh17332 @ 2.35 pm

A psychology student has made her mark on volunteering in Nigeria by founding an organisation which matches potential volunteers with worthy projects across the country.

When she joined Essex in 2016 Rasheedat Olarinoye had no experience of volunteering, but after baking cakes to raise money for Syrian refugees she was bitten by the volunteering bug.

She was soon an active member of Essex Enactus – part of a global student network involving 1500 universities in 40 countries, all working to improve the living standards of millions of disadvantaged people through community projects. Having grown up in Nigeria, before her family moved to the UK, Rasheedat knew there was not a strong culture of volunteering there.

“Being part of the Vteam at Essex made it very easy for me to get involved in volunteering. I knew that many of my friends in Nigeria would be interested in volunteering, but just didn’t know how to go about it. That’s how I came up with the idea of bringing potential volunteers together with projects which could benefit from their time.”

The Volunteering for All website was born. But not content with matching volunteers with projects,   Rasheedat busied herself raising money for a refugee camp in Lagos. In just a week she raised enough money to feed 200 people with a special celebration meal to mark the end of Ramadan and recruited volunteers, including her own mum, to cook and serve the food.

She has since set up three other projects in Nigeria and works with 25 not-for-profit organisations, providing volunteers for their projects across the country, including one which helps disadvantaged children improve their literacy skills.

Rasheedat has got so much out of her volunteering experience, she would recommend other students to follow suit. As she explained: “It’s not just something to put on your CV, you get so much out of volunteering. You meet like-minded people and can get involved in projects which make a difference. There is so much going wrong in the world, but there’s so much you can do to help other people.

“It was like walking into a shop full of candy when I realised the opportunities volunteering offered.”

In her first year, Rasheedat clocked up more than 150 hours of volunteering, earning her a Gold Big Essex  award.  So far this year she has amassed more than 500 hours, including on-going work with Enactus, running Volunteering for All, involvement in the Islam and Psychology Societies and working for Nightline, the support service  run by students for students, which was founded in Essex and now has branches at universities across the UK.




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From Beijing to Essex to study

Filed under: News — mh17332 @ 10.56 am

A Chinese student who arrived at Essex to gain the skills and qualifications she needed to become a translator and interpreter feels she’ll be leaving the University with so much more.

 Sitong Zong studied for a degree in logistics management in Bejing, but part-way through her course set her heart on a career as a Chinese-English translator and interpreter.

 She felt her best chances of success lay in studying in an English-speaking environment, but was worried her lack of experience would be a barrier. A recruitment event in Shanghai changed her mind.

 “I was told my passion and interest in the subject was the most important thing. That event was crucial and I am so glad I went. The University of Essex has exceeded my expectations. It has given me so many opportunities to build up my CV and experience, and also take part in so many activities. I thought I would just be here until I completed my course, but now I don’t want to leave.”

 Sitong has spent two years at Essex – completing a PG Diploma in interpreting, followed by  an MA in Conference Interpreting and Translation. She has really thrown herself into student life and gained a Big Essex Gold Award, in recognition of the many activities she has been involved in.

 These have included opportunities connected to her course. Recommended by her course director, she worked as an interpreter for a tourism forum at the Olympic Stadium at Stratford, met senior translators at the EU in Brussels and for two years running won the Translation Challenge, organised by the department and a translation company.

 She joined the public speaking society, learned French through the Languages for All programme, which offers students the opportunity to learn another language for free alongside their main degree, and volunteered at a local church in Clacton.

 Sitong lived on campus throughout her time at Essex and appreciated the convenience and security this brought her.

 She now hopes to stay in the UK and is keen to use her skills to help British companies begin trading in China.



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