Volunteer Awards 2022 WINNERS!

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Lets talk about March 31st...Volunteer Awards 2022!

After two years of running virtually, we were honoured to have finally been able to host Volunteer Awards in-person this year on the 31st of March, 2022. Volunteer Awards was a night to celebrate U, our fantastic volunteers, class reps, school officers and societies. Student volunteers are the backbone of the Student Union and none of the work we have done this year could have been done without them!

We had 44 nominees up for awards with many of them joining us last week to celebrate. For the first time ever, we had nominees from all of our three U.K. campuses: Edinburgh, Galashiels and Orkney! The winners have been announced and they are:

Principal’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community 

The award was presented by Mark Biggs. the Vice-Principal & Provost. This award recognises a student who has made a significant contribution to our local community outside of Heriot-Watt University.  The recipient of this award may have volunteered with local charities or organisations, fundraised, or created a project or event with a local impact and made a difference to their local community. 

The nominees are - in the words of those who nominated them: 

Bruce Wilson 

“Since 2014, Bruce has been involved with the Scottish Huntington's Association, at first just a young person who had a family impacted by the horrible disease that is Huntington's Disease, but more recently he has been a volunteer and is beginning to expand his horizons further! In 2019, Bruce trekked over 70km of the Great Wall of China to raise awareness and funds, and in total, over £5000 was raised from this 2-year campaign. Bruce was awarded the SHA's Young Volunteer of the Year award in 2019. His focus now has been more on becoming a volunteer and peer ambassador for the Scottish Huntington's Youth Service, offering support to other young people impacted by HD. This position is extremely important to him, as he feels that his journey can be passed on and experiences can be related to by other young people who may be struggling. Overall, Bruce is passionate and committed to making a difference in the community, not only in Scotland, but internationally too.” 

Ethan Hunking 

“Ethan has been volunteering at his local Royal Air Force Cadet unit. Since 2021, when the country was coming out of another lockdown, Ethan was contributing to virtual sessions for his local unit. This included supervising sessions and when required, delivering material for SQA level 5 and 6 awards for the children that attend. In June, Ethan decided to take his volunteering to the next level by becoming a commission officer. With this new position, he holds higher accountability and responsibilities. During Summer, Ethan helped run the ‘Wing flight simulator’. This project is funded by the disabled rugby charity and is used to provide children from any background a flight in a simulator. He supported adventure training activities and tours whilst dealing with all the difficulties of homesickness and bullying amongst the children. Ethan is so committed to supporting the next generation of cadets. Without his support and hard work, it would be harder for cadets to achieve the full potential of the RAFAC.” 

Sirvathsan Karunanithi 

“Srivathsan has been volunteering with Oxfam UK, a leading UK charity organisation who works on reducing the global poverty, from June 2021. He volunteers every Sunday irrespective of how busy the semester gets, as he knows that every hour someone volunteers at Oxfam, they raise over £10. This enabled him to volunteer more with Oxfam knowing that he is helping the community in some way every single week. He has volunteered over 100 hours till date with Oxfam and he continues to volunteer every Sunday. Srivathsan is one of the first few friends I made in Edinburgh and he has tremendously impressed me from the very beginning. I am proud of Srivathsan who manages his time well and has volunteered over 100 hours in just the last 8 months. His dedication is proof that he cares about the local community which I personally feel makes him a perfect candidate for the award.” 

And the winner is:

Bruce Wilson

Principal’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Student Community  

The award was presented by Mark Biggs, the Vice-Principal & Provost. This award recognises a student who has made a significant contribution to the Heriot-Watt University student experience. By working with community groups, volunteering, creating a project or being part of a society or committee, they will have made a difference to the student community. We had over 40 nominations for this category.  

The nominees are - in the words of those who nominated them:  

Jil Sheth  

“As a new student who didn't know anyone, she made me feel really welcome at this university and really took me under her wing. She lends a helping hand to every student and she is very positive. She is a one-stop solution for everything. She went above and beyond in helping the Indian January intake students transition to the UK, from visa details to where to find Indian food stores and restaurants. She has also helped Indian students by carrying out pre-departure briefings. She is a very helpful person and a great volunteer. She is an inspiration for many.”   

David Taylor   

“David has been working for the MACS student community for more than a year now. He took the lead on the Maths Cafe, ran a student initiative to help other students in their courses and give them opportunities to meet, and introduced weekly lecturer talks for students to inspire them to go into maths research! He also worked tirelessly on the Maths Newsletter, to help keep student communities together and the department informed. In the darkest times of the online learning, he went above and beyond to support students in their social needs by setting up online forums, keeping meeting spaces open and organising social nights for the entire department. All of this was in his spare time and was never required of him but he ensured students had a better experience at Heriot Watt.”  

Greig Rowe  

“Greig has out in almost 300 hours for the Investment Society since 2021. He led the creation and delivery of a society education program to familiarise members with investing and virtual trading funding. This helped members pitch investments and receive feedback from industry speakers. This has all led to helping members gain positions in spring insights, internships and grad roles. He has attended over 90% of society events to be able to welcome new members and help contribute to a good atmosphere within the society. His contributions to the society have far exceeded his role. Greig has helped the society to grow to one of the largest academic societies at Heriot-Watt. I am confident that no other student has demonstrated more commitment or passion than Greig regarding societies at Heriot-Watt.” 

And the winner is:

Grieg Rowe

Open Door Award  

The award was presented by Campbell Powrie, Head of Student Life. This award recognises a student or student group who has contributed to creating a vibrant, inclusive and respectful community on campus. Their work has made students from diverse backgrounds feel welcome. They will have also made considerations about supporting the mental health and wellbeing of students during the pandemic by actively working towards tackling loneliness and isolation. 

The nominees are - in the words of those who nominated them: 

Connel Greenhorn 

“Connel has deployed his initiative to create an inclusive and supportive space for all. He has been really involved in creating an environment where the wellbeing of students is an important focus of the year. He’s been working closely with students and the full-time officers to better the student wellbeing at uni. He has been exceptional at engaging with the Well-being Group and passed a motion in Parliament on implementing Wellbeing Reps similar to Class Reps. This is an amazing initiative which shows Connel’s passion to enhance our well-being at uni. On top of that, he’s in his 3rd year!!!!” 

Kirsty Mitchell 

“Kirsty is continuously working to make sure every woman and non-binary person in STEM, as well as allies and people with a general interest in STEM, feel welcome in Watt Women in STEM society. I have been really impressed by the range of events and opportunities they offered - not only have they provided inspiring career-related talks, but almost all of their events have provided methods for getting over imposter syndrome, networking, communicating or other soft skills that I, and certainly many other young women, struggle with. Kirsty has always been incredibly open to suggestions, and I always felt like I could suggest an event and Kirsty and the team would endeavor to make it happen.” 

Tom Bennett 

“Tom is an Orkney campus student and has been very welcoming to everyone around them, whether they are new university, new to a society or an old face he has gotten to know. He has a talent for making people feel welcome and involved in whatever he is doing. He has helped educate and involve members from other societies (such as the LGBTQ+ society) into the Eco society. He has been very understanding and supportive to all the society members he is a part of and is always messaging friends and members around him to make sure they are dealing well with everything that is going on it our world today.” 

And the winner is:

Tom Bennett

Undergraduate Representative of the Year  

The award was presented by John Sawkins, Deputy Principal for Education & Student Life.This award recognises a Class Rep who has contributed to academic improvements and/or the development of the Student Union’s profile through their elected role. The recipient will have proactively attended university and Student Union meetings, communicated meeting outcomes and updates with students, worked in partnership with their academic course staff and other reps, and used innovative methods to increase student awareness and engagement to ensure that the voices of all students are heard during the pandemic.  There were a whopping 68 nominations for this category.  

The nominees are - in the words of those who nominated them: 

Harshita Chhabra 

“Harshita has shown extreme dedication to help her peers and assisted them in many capacities. She has always been proactive during classes, very helpful, highly motivated, concerned about other people's well-being and always there to help others to solve their issues. She has conveyed the problems faced by fellow students at the meetings and helped to resolve the issues faced by students at higher level meetings. Her perseverance and enthusiasm to bring about a change is commendable. She was there for me when I needed help (I had an emotional breakdown and she helped me to get back on my feet). I personally think she deserves this award more than anyone.  Her perseverance and enthusiasm to bring about a change is commendable. I have known her for the last 4 months and she has not just been a class representative for me but also one of my closest friends whom I could trust and ask for anything.” 

Amna Mirza 

“Amna is just fabulous, she is always there to help and support. Amna always goes above and beyond for everyone in the course. Her responses to messages or emails are very quick and she always comes up with solutions. Amna is also a very friendly individual and has been very welcoming at university. Her passion for her degree and people is clearly shown as her position as a class rep. She would check on students’ well-being often and provide useful health tips. She works to the best of her ability alongside helping others. She guides everyone in the right direction. She is definitely the most hard-working diligent student and an amazing example of how a class rep should be. She definitely deserves it!” 

Chloe Stone 

“Chloe is a fantastic communication link between staff and students. She has resolved many issues though the year regarding coursework and course content. Chloe is always on the ball - she’s very proactive, always trying to solve problems before they escalate. She has numerously taken on tasks above her volunteer role to help her school officer counterpart. She communicates very well with students and is firm yet diplomatic in how she handles confrontations with lecturers. I feel her hard work should be recognised for being very engaging with our opinions and always sorting out tricky situations for us!” 

And the winner is:

Harshita Chhabra 

Postgraduate Representative of the Year  

The award was presented by Shana Faraghat, Vice President Community. This award recognises a Postgraduate Taught or Postgraduate Research Rep who has contributed to academic improvements and the development of the Student Union’s profile through their role.  

The nominees are - in the words of those who nominated them: 

Glory Kolapo 

“It is with much enthusiasm that I recommend Glory for this award. Glory is an asset to the university at large. She is very cheerful and is willing to assist with any tasks. Her academic strengths are complemented by her demonstrated leadership skills. She is committed towards ensuring everyone gets heard and has smooth academic experience. She has a very special spark, and I trust she is the most deserving candidate.” 

Maleeha Rashid 

“Maleeha goes above and beyond and cares about each one of us. If there was a problem, she would go out her way to find a solution even if she didn’t need to. Maleeha set up most of the communication portals for all MSc, she constantly updates all students on any news and is quick to provide links and help when she can. She puts out a feedback form every time there is a PT rep meeting so that students can report their feedback easily and she has no problem emailing lecturers on behalf of students. She's been outstandingly communicative, very professional and a joy to speak to.” 

Avani Jain 

“Avani has been incredible! She’s communicated between staff and students and provided really complex feedback over busy periods. She’s never said no to helping a student and has been so generous with her time and energy. She has been a huge help to students who started later in the term and required help from overseas. She contributed immensely in managing class morale and helping postgrads voice be heard. I couldn’t have done this masters without her! She made everyone feel good and confident about their masters, even when it can all seem confusing and overwhelming at times.” 

And the winner is: 

Avani Jain

School Officer of the Year  

The award was presented by Hannah Copeland – Vice President Education. This award recognizes a School Officer who has contributed to academic improvements and raised awareness of the work of academic representatives and the Student Union through their role.  The recipient will have worked in partnership with their academic course staff, Student Union and other reps, and shown strong leadership in ensuring students in their department felt supported and heard during the pandemic. There were 54 nominations for this category.  

The nominees are - in the words of those who nominated them: 

Chloe Chandler 

“Chloe has put her heart and soul into this position, she has given so much of her time and energy and love to her job and it’s been such an honour to work with her. She is always willing to figure out a way to help Class Reps and if you don’t have a solution, she will help you find one. It would have been impossible to be a class rep without her help. She is an absolute legend and is always willing to help students and strives for proper communication and clarity. She loves the course and she appreciates the class reps and students they represent. What more can I say?” 

Nathan Pio Fernandes 

“Nathan has done the students a great justice over his role as a school officer. He has shown deep interest in students' concerns related to any academic matters and also had relayed these matters superbly to the university. This has been an incredibly difficult year and he’s been nothing but supportive with any issues big or small, he also takes on everyone’s opinions and tries to incorporate them into the solution. Nathan also always makes sure to communicate issues with all of us regarding such things as uncertainties surrounding mitigating circumstances and more. Nathan always replies to messages and makes sure you feel heard. He is extremely patient and definitely improved my university experience this year.” 

Lauren Stewart 

“Lauren has supported the Geography class reps and made sure their voices were heard and not dismissed.  She helped with any issues and had great communication between staff and students. Lauren goes above and beyond consistently and is always contactable. She really is a force for change within not just Geography but the whole of urban studies. Lauren has shaped the way the course is taught, as she has applied herself so much to this role and put copious amounts of time and effort into bettering everyone’s experience. She works closely with students and staff to mitigate issues and communicates regularly. The past year would not have been so smooth sailing without her input.” 

And the winner is: 

Nathan Pio Fernandes

Academic Enhancement Award  

The award was presented by Paul Travill - Global Academic Registrar. This award recognises a student or student group who has helped you academically. Whether it's a society which has hosted revision sessions near exams, organised course-enriching events or Class Reps and School Officers who have listened to your academic issues and brought them to the attention of the University, these people have helped you with your studies off their own backs. They are driven to improve your academic experience at Heriot-Watt and help develop an inclusive and exciting learning community.  

The nominees are - in the words of those who nominated them: 

Maths Newsletter 

“The Maths Newsletter team have worked incredibly hard to produce regular and high-quality publication. The Newsletter acts to inform Maths students of important announcements or events, as well as discussing popular Maths culture. The team have gone to real lengths to gather funding and resources to produce the newsletter. Staff have also been thoroughly enjoying the newsletter and many have come forward to be interviewed, discuss their academic research or to write their own articles! I look forward to seeing the growth of the Maths Newsletter - it is one of the positives of RBL and really deserves to be commended for its success so far.” 

Chemical Engineering Society 

“They have consistently been hosting academic events and bringing in external speakers from different companies within the field. What won me over was their “Watt is Chemical Engineering” panel event with 5 fantastic alumni. It made me feel a lot more confident studying chemistry engineering and going into that industry after graduation. It was really helpful and useful to find out how other students secured internships, even during a pandemic. It was great to hear from them and it has given me a better understanding of the different career paths that I could look forward to after graduating.” 

Joshua Mathie 

“I'd like to nominate Joshua as he's been an incredible help to me in the first semester of my masters. He willingly sacrificed his time and efforts and helped me go through my studies to help me figure out what was happening. He carefully explained concepts to me and just genuinely cared about my academic well-being. He did this all without me asking for help and I know he helped other students as well.” 

And the winner is: 

Joshua Mathie 

Strive for Sustainability Award  

The award was presented by Shana Faraghat, Vice President Community. This year our trophies were made out of eco-friendly and sustainable bamboo. It's through small commitments like these that we can easily help make a difference.  

Strive for Sustainability award recognises a student or student group who has made an outstanding effort to promote sustainability on campus and in the community more widely. The recipient of this award may have promoted conversations about sustainability, upskilled other people in sustainability, or signposted others to relevant University and community services. 

The nominees are - in the words of those who nominated them: 

Eco Society 

“The Eco Society have been one of the leading ambassadors for sustainability at our University. They have held competitions, educational talks and have collaborated with many different societies to spread awareness of ecofriendly living and how we can stop Climate Change. The Eco Society at its core strives to push the university to do its part in the fight against the climate crisis. They have campaigned for food waste bins in halls, increased bus service to Hermiston Gait, and an ambitious net zero plan. Currently, posters are also being created for the kitchens in halls to help educate students on how to recycle properly. Overall, they have showed real commitment to sustainability and deserve this award.” 

Watt Women in STEM  

“In collaboration with the Ocean Conservation and the Eco Society, the Watt Woman created a panel event around the topic of “Racism and Sexism in Sustainability”. This was an important area to educate people on as women in sustainability fall under the woman in STEM umbrella, but they are often forgotten about, and it is important to find out about how their lives are affected by being the minority in their fields. This event was really informative and allowed us to hear about environmental racism and sexism from lots of different perspectives as there were women from all different stages in their lives and different ethnic minorities. They had over 40 people in attendance both online and in person and it gave us a new perspective of these issues and a lot of food for thought.” 

Veg Soc 

“Throughout another challenging year hit by COVID, VegSoc have successfully engaged with a variety of events and social media content surrounding sustainability. Firstly, VegSoc participated in Sustainability week creating a series of informative social media posts, held a "how to shop plant based" talk, external speakers from sustainable organisations as well as helping organise a joint social "Sustainability Fest". In addition, VegSoc ran a Veganuary competition to encourage people to make more sustainable food choices. They have put sustainability and healthy eating at the core of everything they do.” 

And the winner is: 

Eco Society

Best Social Media Presence Award  

The award was presented by Dominika Chical, Marketing Coordinator. This award recognises a society or a group of students who have worked hard to produce excellent content across their social media platforms. With the rise of digital services because of COVID-19, they were able to demonstrate an innovative and effective use of social media as a tool to develop their brand and engage with members. The winner of this award will have proactively made the online world a little more positive and had an impact on their target audience. 

The nominees are - in the words of those who nominated them: 

Ocean Conservation Society 

“Ocean conservation society are always posting informative and engaging content on their social media. They do a great job of letting us know about any upcoming events in a very creative way with attractive graphics through posts and stories.” 

Team ESTEEM 

“Team Esteem won the third position for Communications in the Solar Decathlon Middle East 2021 because of its amazing social media presence. Through social media, esteem has shown its work by posting time lapse videos of constructing their solar powered house, creating a Minecraft edition of their house and sharing other activities in the form of stories, reels and posts.” 

Sleep Society 

“The Sleep Society are always creating such informative and appealing posts on Instagram. They post regularly but not to the point where I am bombarded. I love how they’re also animated posts rather than just text. It’s so creative and has made me pause to read instead of scroll past. It has also helped me remember key well-being things to do during a chaotic day and it’s so nice to see them care so much for student well-being.” 

And the winner is: 

Team ESTEEM

Event of the Year  

The award was presented by Adam Dewar, Societies Assistant. This event will have been something everyone was talking about, made a difference or brought people together. It may have been so good, people are planning on doing it again - making it bigger and better than before! This award recognises a society or group of students who have worked together to produce an excellent event for others. The event has provided students somewhere to belong with a friendly and welcoming attitude, whether it was online or in-person.   

The nominees are - in the words of those who nominated them: 

Society Unite Bleach Clean Up by Ocean Conservation Society 

“16 societies took part in this event and I got to meet so many people from different societies talking to me about their events. I’d list all the societies but I genuinely can’t remember because there were so many. And the best part was they united for a common cause, tackling climate change. They collected a whopping 54.6kg of rubbish, covering 2km of beach. They collaborated with Marine Conservation Society to provide further insight into the extent and cause of the marine litter problem which has allowed them to have an even greater impact. They deserve this nomination as they worked so hard to organise this beach clean-up on such a big scale!” 

Chinese New Year by Malaysian Society 

“The event was well organised and especially made us feel like home with all the Malaysian Chinese foodcooked by the committees. We also had a pleasant time mingling with fellow Malaysians from all-around Edinburgh. Since most of us are away from our families during Chinese New Year we couldn't celebrate with them but, this event made it feel like home. It has been a few years since they had this event in person and it was a huge success with over 100 attendees. They also worked with The Positive Event to make the event more sustainable, for example, encouraging people to carpool and to use public transport, and to bring their own cutlery and Tupperware, to take home any leftover food to prevent food waste. It really reminded me of home, which just shows how well-planned the event was. The committee made sure the event feels comforting and joyful!” 

Robo Sumo by Robotics Society 

“The robotics society organised a competition which involved building an autonomous robot from scratch following the society’s instructions and advice in a series of three workshops, and then fighting against your peers in the arena to prove who has the strongest robot. Now only this was very exciting, as you were fighting against other in a real competition, but the best was that there was no entry level required, anyone could join, as the workshops were designed to teach from scratch the basics of electronics and programming, so everyone, no matter their background, could take part in it. Some even managed to put a personal touch on each of their robots, for example one member tried to make the robot heavier by attaching trumpet mouthpieces! The competition renewed my passion for robotics, after the lack of practical work last year diminished it.” 

And the winner is: 

Robo Sumo by Robotics Society

New Society of the Year  

The award was presented by Polly Glynn, Activities Coordinator. This year through Society Council, we saw so many new societies start up and become a part of the union community. This award recognises a society which has been part of the Student Union for 1 calendar year or less. It will have engaged lots of members despite COVID 19, held successful events and really made a name for themselves with students across campus through excellent teamwork, innovative ideas and sheer determination. The society will have been open to everyone, creating opportunities and memories for all members.  

The nominees are - in the words of those who nominated them: 

Ocean Conservation Society 

“I don't live on campus and feel like I've been missing out on the social aspect of university a lot. The main thing that has helped me with this has been the ocean conservation society and its members. This society has helped ease a lot of my anxiety around starting university, it's made me feel like a part of something and I'm now less worried about how things will be going forward thanks to them. The events that I've been able to attend have all been excellent, well organised and are some of my best experiences since starting university. This society has really made my whole experience so far 100 times better and I look forward to the events they have going forward.” 

Society for Progressive Students 

“The Society for Porgressive Students are very active on campus and are the driving force in getting Heriot-Watt to divest from fossil fuels. The SPS have good membership numbers and are active in the wider community, having hosted talks with other groups from outside the uni. I've attended one or two of the events they have ran now, and they do truly wish to make a difference to not only our learning environment, but the rest of society. "Sheer determination" is the exact wording I would use for this society and they are continuing with their mission of improvement.” 

New Designers Scottish Borders Society 

“New Designers Society have been AMAZING and so friendly! They’ve single handedly raised funds through bake sales and creative online events like an online pet show! It’s been so fun seeing them on campus and such a privilege to be able to help support them to attend the new designers exhibition in London. I just hope we’re that creative when we reach 4th year! They’ve given me such valuable insights into university life after graduation. It’s so nice to have that space with them and learn from them” 

And the winner is: 

Ocean Conservation Society

Society of the Year  

The award was presented by Shana Faraghat, Vice President Community. This award recognises a society which has been part of the Student Union for over 1 calendar year. After transitioning from online to in-person events, societies have done an amazing job exceeding expectations, pushing themselves to do more and engage more students than before through excellent teamwork, innovative ideas and sheer determination. This was one of the most difficult categories to shortlist as every society has gone above and beyond to help students and create opportunities and memories for all members. 

We received the most nominations in this category with over 80 nominations. The nominees are - in the words of those who nominated them: 

Investment Society 

“Investment society have multiple events each week including bringing in speakers from investment banks, asset managers and hedge funds which is incredibly difficult to do so. They are providing many opportunities to aid professional development to all students for free. This society has gone beyond and above to enhance the learning experience of their members helping them be more confident in investing and in financial jargon in general. They also made an effort to bring members together socially and that has been very helpful for mental health and wellbeing, especially during this distance learning era. They genuinely show a great interest in making this an amazing experience for us all. All the members feel very welcome, and it's great to see how the society is accommodating students who are not on any investment-related course. Everything about the society, from the teaching of courses to the regular socials, has been an awesome experience!” 

Muslim Society 

“From their work towards combatting islamophobia, to create a safe space for young Muslims and people exploring their faith, it’s a great platform for all Muslim students to come together and feel a sense of community! Although it’s a Muslim society, they have been nothing but welcoming to students from all walks of life. It’s a society that sees beyond colour, religion, race or background - instead everyone is welcome in the safe space that they have created. I can message any of them day or night if I need help, no matter how big or small - they have helped and enriched my student experience. I was hesitant joining university but I really didn’t need to feel this way, because I was welcomed with open arms. From social events, to honest and raw conversations which, frankly, are hard to have with even those closest to us. It’s a breath of fresh air and a much-needed comforting group of people that support emotionally, physically and general mental wellbeing. I cannot praise them enough” 

Pole Dance Society 

“In the entire time, I have been a part of the university the pole dance society has really been an anchor for my entire university experience. Even in tough times like covid and other more personal situations, I could always rely on the community that I formed at pole dance society. I truly feel like I have met a community of people that are my friends and care about me, and even more has introduced me to an entirely new community outside of the university. I am also so proud and happy to see the society itself become so much bigger and tackle new things, with covid still having an effect on societies.  I will truly miss the society with all my heart after this year, however, I'm sure I have made life-long friends there, so I won't really be gone. Overall, just good vibes all around.” 

Languages Society 

“The current Languages Soceity committee goes above and beyond for their members. Their events have never been as busy as they have been this year - the level of online engagement, inclusivity and kindness radiated by the volunteers within this society make it an absolute joy to be a part of. They have managed to organise successful events including people from all year groups as well as exchange students, and every event organised has been amazing. They bring a lot of people together, especially Erasmus students, which helps make friends with people who have the same interests as you do. They do lots to make international students feel welcome and they are so lovely and approachable.” 

And the winner is: 

Muslim Society

Society Leader of the Year  

The award was presented by Shana Faraghat, Vice President Community. This award recognises a Society Office Bearer who has contributed to enhancing the society community at Heriot-Watt. This exceptional leader will have gone above and beyond to inspire others in their society as well as being a great representative of the Student Union. The winner of this award will have been a friendly face to all and will have promoted an inclusive and supportive environment to new and current members.  

There were over 25 society leaders nominated for this category.  The nominees are - in the words of those who nominated them: 

Natalie Beentjes 

“Never in all my years have I seen such a fine example of dedication and hard work than in the mortal body of Natalie. To think of all the hours she spends organising and attending every single event for the Brewing Society is honestly perplexing, and to consider that this is all voluntary is emblematic of a truly great individual. I really don't think there would be a Brewing Society at all without Natalie, she's incredible, and she deserves this award. Every. Single. Event. She has been the driving force. First there, last to leave - consistently. I don't know what else you're wanting in terms of quality, but I doubt you will find it. She is one of the nicest persons you will ever meet and works her ass off for the society!” 

Lilja Alam 

“With doing so much in her personal life and then also being part of two committees I am honestly amazed with Lil! She only joined a society committee in her second semester this year however, she has done so much that I cannot thank her enough. She has truly made this year a breeze for me whilst I worked on my Dissertation and finishing this degree. With the help in planning, organising and applying for funding, I am honestly amazed with the fact that she could do it all and always have a smile on her face. She persevered through so much hard work and she always was so positive. She managed to make our society a lot closer with other societies such as the Ocean Conservation Society. I have never felt so thankful for someone's work and I have never felt this proud of anyone before. I really hope she gets every award possible as she deserves so much recognition for all her hard work.” 

Olivia Cullen  

“Olivia has continuously worked to improve the society and make everyone feel welcome and included. She made sure to cater to the needs of all students by incorporating social events and informative industry panel events for those who are more interested in academics. She always checked on members and found ways to distribute workload so people wouldn’t get overwhelmed. She inspired other members to join the society and has opened up minds to different career opportunities with panel events. She has created an alumni network on Linkedin, so previous graduates from Heriot-Watt Chemical Engineering can connect with past classmates and share job opportunities. She developed the new position of well-being officer within the committee and made sure the society offered advice and helpful tips on Instagram to help those struggling with stress. She is currently planning and creating a grad ball for current graduating students, and others who want to attend, as well as reaching the invite out to 2020 and 2021 Chemical Engineering graduates who missed out on theirs. She is hardworking, perseveres through difficult times and puts others first.” 

Laiba Khan 

“Laiba is the president of the Muslim society and has made everyone feel so welcomed and supportive. Laiba has pushed to keep the society active through Islamophobia Month, Discover Islam Week, sport matches and even a self-care pampering events. She’s a post graduate student and the fact that she has time to run such a big society with such a big committee is impressive! She’s dedicated and passionate and it shows. Shes an outstanding individual who goes above and beyond for the society and has led the society to great success. She has created a haven for Muslims coming from all around the world. Laiba puts a lot of effort in helping new students find a community they feel comfortable in. She is always open to all kind of questions and gives her best to answer them straight away and it shows that she is happy to help.” 

And the winner is: 

Olivia Cullen

Stefan Kay Volunteer of the Year Award for 2022

The award was presented by Kathy Patterson, Student Union External Trustee. Stefan Kay was the first Student Union President of Heriot-Watt University.  He was an exemplary volunteer and advocate for students, providing invaluable insight and advice to the Student Union, and helping the Union itself to develop into the strong, independent organisation it is today. The recipient of this award, and indeed all of the nominees, have demonstrated a commitment to continuing the legacy set by Stefan as an exemplary volunteer and advocate for improving the student experience at Heriot-Watt.      

The nominees are - in the words of those who nominated them: 

Imogen Paterson  

“Imogen volunteers as leader of the Christian Union at the Heriot-Watt Scottish Borders campus. Every week, she goes above and beyond by making sure that weekly sessions are enjoyable for all who attend. Imogen's caring nature means she always puts others first and is committed to creating a welcoming and inclusive environment at the Christian Union. Despite her other commitments (such as, running her own face-painting business and working weekends as a freelance outdoor activity instructor) Imogen stays dedicated to the community she has built during the 3-4 years she has led the Society. She is always more than happy to take on extra duties and volunteers her time to prepare for Christian Union events, which have always been hugely successful. Imogen does so much and doesn’t get anywhere near the recognition she deserves” 

Lauren Sandison  

“As well as striving to do her absolute best in her studies (Interpreting and Translating German and Spanish) and constantly dedicating her time to the swim team for training and competitions, Lauren has taken on the roles of social media officer for the Language Society and secretary for the Swim Team.  She is the type of person that always says yes when asked to do a task and never wants to let anyone down. This may have resulted in her being very stressed and overwhelmed at times but she always pushes through and exceeds expectations. She is incredible at everything she does and gives up so much of her time to achieve this, as clearly evidenced from the hours she spends volunteering! After seeing the ins and outs of her working, it’s hard to think of a more dedicated and worthy individual.”  

Jil Sheth  

“Jil has gone beyond her comfort zone to help new Indian students coming to Heriot-Watt University. She has been a great support in providing information and guidance.  Most importantly she has always been available and responsive to all of our Indian students for every single bit of information needed both before and after reaching Edinburgh.  Jil has been the bridge between India and the University.  Her Indian culture has helped so many first-time travelers from India and has saved them hours of time in research.  She has not only assisted as a Society Leader but also as School Officer and Res Life assistant. When we hear the word ‘volunteer’, there is only one person’s name that springs to mind and that is Jil Sheth.”  

And the winner is: 

Imogen Paterson  

Well, that is a wrap!

Congratulations to all our nominees and winners - we'll see you next year, 2023!

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