7. Mental health is a prevailing issue among young adults, it was also one of the focus points of your manifesto. What do you suggest should students to do look after their wellbeing?
I think mental health is a prevailing issue not just with young adults but among all ages and industries. We as a team at the union, to make a difference, put up campaigns where we encourage students to come up and speak. Brunel is diverse and people come from different backgrounds and in some of the countries mental health is still a taboo, people just consider it as a temporary feeling of sadness, they don’t consider it an issue. So we try to encourage students to speak up, acknowledge and accept their feelings and issues and help them come out of their shell.
Secondly, we work with the university to improve the provisions provided on campus for other students, from mental health advisors to counselling services to the Disability and Dyslexia service. And if there is a service that isn’t available on campus we try and signpost them to the right bodies and authorities that they can speak to, because the common goal is to make the Brunel experience the best it can be.
8. You spend a lot of time helping other people, what is your release, what do you do to make sure you’re okay?
My first year in the position, I was a 24-hour president, 7 days a week. I had an open-door policy, constantly talking to people, my phone number was public, people were ringing me left and right. In my second year, I have managed to schedule my days and activities and allot days for certain things. I try and spend an hour and a half in the gym, just exercise, maybe go on a run.
So two key things: meditation in the morning for five to ten minutes each day and gym at least four to five days a week. My phone is off at that time.
9. What is the best part of your role, what motivates you to be there and be present through all of it?
I think the best part of the role would be when I have delivered something and you can see the smile and happiness on a student’s face. My motivation is the students, the promises that I made when I stood for election, my motivation is to deliver upon them and to make them happy, to make a difference. Wanting to make a difference.
10. You met the prime minister recently, twice, can you tell me a little bit about that experience?
Yes, the first instance of when I met him was at his Uxbridge office, we met him in his capacity as the local Member of Parliament. He gave us 30 to 35 mins. It was a good experience. We were all prepared and had a meeting before. We went there with two things to discuss:
a. A Brunel bus service. It would be shared between the local community and the students
b. The Hillingdon hospital, to discuss whether it would be rebuilt or refurbished.
The second occasion was when the conservative party had a campaign launch and I was invited to witness it even though as a SU president, I am neutral to the UK elections.
11. Whom do you admire the most and who inspires you?
If I would have to choose one person, it would be Barack Obama. He was a community organiser when he was around my age. He was working for the community and took up leadership roles, he worked his way up. If I were to give a song to Barack’s journey, it would be, started from the bottom now we’re here. He hustled his way up. From his journey what I can learn is that handwork beats talent.
In terms of inspiration, there isn’t just one person, I take inspiration from new students, my peers, from any and everyone. Any and everything good, I try and take inspiration from it and then attempt to share it with whomever I meet.
12. What are your top tips for students who want to follow in your footsteps?
First of all, learn to manage time, second, learn to prioritise. In terms of priority, put your studies as your number one priority. Aim for a first-class, but also focus on developing your personality. If you want to be a president, try and get involved with the activities that are happening in the university, try and understand what students need because it's not about you or me, but about the community as a whole. The moment you understand that you have taken the first step in the right direction. Talk to as many people as you can. Become a part of clubs and societies, help them organise events. Help individual students in your capacity and fight elections.
13. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
If I keep working hard, I see myself in the public sector. Right now am catering to 15000 students, but in five years I see myself doing that for times 100. I understand that I have developed the skill set of talking to people, helping people, speaking on their behalf, so if I have the option of doing that for the rest of my life, why not.
14. What is your message to the youth of Brunel?
My message to the youth of Brunel would make the most of your time, if you are an international student, you have travelled this far from your country, you’re paying a lot of fees, you’ve taken so much time out of your family life, so make the most of it. Don’t limit yourself, right now you don’t have many responsibilities but yourself, so make the most out of it. Make the most of your time, if you have spare time, go and get a job or an internship, go out and volunteer, not everything has to be for money, go out and try and give back to your community, work on yourself and your personal development. If you compare yourself to a lot of other people, you’re privileged, in the sense that you have the opportunity to go to university, not everybody is lucky enough to have that and Brunel is a big and reputed institution, so make use of the facilities and the services available here, it can be academic or other professional development services. Make the most of your 24 hours. What is the difference between a successful person and not so successful person, they work hard in those 24 hours. What are you doing with your 24 hours? Think about it. Sky’s the limit.