It feels odd to be reflecting on my time as Director of Student Development and Activities already. I could have sworn that we were only four months in; however, I only have four months left so it is time to look back on what a crazy rollercoaster it has been. From Campaign Week to Freshers’ Week to Race2 Prague, my year as a Sabb has been like nothing else. I will forever be indebted to the experiences I’ve had and the fabulous people who I’ve met along the way.
I’m not going to lie to you, being a Sabb may be the weirdest experience of your life. It becomes a strange collection of day to day experiences: what you thought was a routine gets immediately chucked out the window with that one email that sends you into crisis management mode. However, if I were to do this entire year again there is very little I would do differently. There is a steep learning curve, mistakes are made, but if you remain open to all of the possibilities this year has in store, you will have an amazing year. I tried new things, got involved in projects I never did when I was studying and had a blast all the way through. You have to make some tough decisions, and may find yourself in situations you didn’t expect at 22 or 23 years old, but it is all a very special balancing act. Balancing between being a student and being staff, being friends and being a manager, socialising and working. Once you find that balance your year is set. However, don’t worry — all those boundaries and distinctions disappear when you realise you’ve made an impact on someone’s university experience.
To quote my predecessor Kyle Blain, “Take pictures, say thank you, and don’t burn bridges.”
Moving into campaign season, it is important to look back at why I wanted to serve as DoSDA. Despite this job being an elected position, I feel more like a civil servant than a politician. While we are all required to make campaign promises through our manifestos – never forget that checking things off your list can wait if one of the students you are working with needs something either immediately or long term. This year I have felt beholden to the students who choose to spend their time in St Andrews outside the classroom – whether planning a conference, putting on a play, competing in a debate competition, or volunteering with SVS. My priority this year has been to attempt to act in their best interest regardless of any political ramifications. It may seem difficult at times but in a sabbatical post if you can’t enjoy helping out your fellow students, you’re doing something wrong.
To quote my predecessor Kyle Blain, “Take pictures, say thank you, and don’t burn bridges.” It is the motto I’ve tried to live by throughout my time as DoSDA because I owe this town, this Union and all of the students I’ve worked with the utmost of thank yous for the experience of the lifetime that I’ve had over this past year.
So to all of those thinking about running this year – remember to sleep, eat, have fun, and most importantly remember why you want to get involved.
Director of Student Development and Activities 2016/17