From Fresher to Graduate with Southampton Hub

Posted on: 12 September 2016

My first encounter with Southampton Hub was as a fresher at the Bunfight (a local term for Societies Fair). I remember being stopped and asked whether I cared about social and environmental issues. The answer seemed quite clear and obvious to me – of course, who wouldn’t? So, I left the event having signed up to The Week, with a Fairtrade teabag stapled to a Southampton Hub postcard in hand.

Later, I saw that the Hub was recruiting a subcommittee for the Sustainability Festival. I felt excited and eager to apply, but also extremely nervous. I had no idea what to expect, whether I would be chosen or who I would be working with. After all, it was only my second week at university. Fear of being judged as an overeager fresher filled my head, even as I walked to my first subcommittee meeting. Had I known more about Student Hubs then, I would have realised that my fears were unfounded. The network is filled with friendly, welcoming and supportive individuals. Not many people would organise a gluten-free and lactose-free cake to be baked for your birthday by someone who did not know you at the time!

Helping to organise the Sustainability Festival was my first role with Southampton Hub and it gave me an insight into the incredible work that was happening around me. I was able to contribute alongside equally proactive students and continue developing my communication and organisational skills, all while helping to make a difference at university. When Student Volunteering Week 2014 took place, I participated in as many activities as possible. SVW quickly became and remains one of my favourite weeks.

Later in 2014, I became the Hub’s Environment and Sustainability Coordinator, put in charge of organising the next Sustainability Festival. Stepping up from a subcommittee position, I was able to shape the festival how I liked and simultaneously gain invaluable leadership skills. During this time, I also volunteered with Schools Plus and Branch Up. My second year became a very Hubby one!

In my final year, I continued as the Sustainability Coordinator, but decided I wanted to organise more than the festival. Through the Hub, I started Bio-Cycle, a food waste recycling scheme run by and for students. I’m glad that Southampton Hub provided me with a space to explore and pursue my creative ideas for environmental solutions.

Volunteering with Southampton Hub in all of these ways was extremely rewarding. Although motivating different groups of students was challenging at times, putting in hard work and commitment was worth it for the great connections I made, especially with students who were initially uncertain about social action.

Positive change begins with small steps and I truly believe there is no better organisation to support young people to take these steps than Student Hubs. Being involved with a Hub at university gives you the freedom to take action alongside enthusiastic and like-minded peers. My three years with Southampton Hub have shaped me to be a more resilient, determined, proactive and confident individual.

If you are new to a) social action, b) volunteering, c) Student Hubs or d) all of the above, this may seem quite daunting. I encourage you to look at your local Hub’s projects and opportunities, speak to the students involved and find a cause you feel passionate about. Volunteering does not have to fill your entire life (though I sometimes wonder whether I spent more time on my degree or on Hub-related activities!) – it can mean volunteering for just one or two hours a week. That time could still have a huge impact on you and your community, so why not give it a go? Find your local Hub here.

If you work for a university or another organisation, learn more about partnering with Student Hubs here.

Madlaina Michelotti

Madlaina is a recent Marine Biology and Oceanography graduate from the University of Southampton, where she dedicated her free time to volunteering for Southampton Hub. Madlaina now plans on going travelling and is excited to see where her social action journey will take her in the future!

Tags: Education, Environment & Sustainability, Social Action, Social Enterprise, Social Impact Careers, Student Voice, Uncategorized


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