Hundreds flocked to The Hub yesterday to see what over 40 different student-led societies had to offer
Teesside Universities Campus Heart and its surrounds were alive with positive energy on Tuesday, as new and returning students looked to see what activities would be dominating their free-time in the months ahead.
Featuring stands from dedicated groups for passions and interests ranging from music, to knitting, to psychology, the event was a chance for existing members of over 40 student-led societies to pitch there offerings to potential new members.
This included ‘Scout’ and ‘Shield-breaker’ who were campaigning for new recruits to join the ranks of their Battle Re-enactment Society whilst suitably dressed in period costume.
Talking on the real world benefits that joining a society can offer to an undergraduate, Scout – who when not in character is a Graphic Design student known as Will – highlighted how his “very fun hobby” is also “great to put on a CV” and can provide vital talking points with future employers.
Also exhibiting on the day was Project Management Postgrad, Takura Sibanda, representing the international entrepreneurial society working towards social change, Enactus.
Offering something distinctly different, Takura explained how Enactus are looking for “innovative, enthusiastic, persistent people who want to implement change” to fill defined roles to help deliver projects like the groups’s ongoing campaign ‘Freedge’.
This locally based initiative looks to tackle food poverty by re-directing a proportion of the estimated 3 million tonnes of food wasted UK wide to people who are in need.
In an impassioned plea, Takura was keen to get his message out there to enable the group to do further still adding, “this is a society for people who want to grow, who want to develop, who want to cross-skill.”
Passion and Dedication
A distinct theme encountered throughout speaking to those that run their societies was the extraordinary level of passion and dedication that goes into running them.
Take for example the cases of Tom Johnson, Gareth Kerr and Matthew Protheroe-Hill, the people behind the multiple award-winning NET – Ethical Hacking Society.
Setup in 2017, the society has quickly established itself as an ‘unparalleled peer-to-peer learning’ environment in the field of cyber-security and has used the combined skills of its members to put on interactive displays locally for students and the wider public.
This hugely impressive and engaging group hasn’t failed to go unnoticed either, with the society receiving the “Best New Society Award” at the Teesside Universities Societies Awards in its first year, before going on to be crowned “Best Society” last year.
Asked about the societies rapid growth, Tom felt that computer science area was now seen as more exciting subject, quipping, “we’re not nerds anymore, we’re classed as cool!”
And Matthew is hopefully that in his year as chair, this new found coolness will lead to finding students who share their passion to build on and continue the societies remarkable journey.
“The main thing is, now we’re coming into our third year, we’re looking for people to take over and make it their own.”
‘Who doesn’t love Harry Potter?’
Another popular stopping point on the day was the table of the Leaky Cauldron Society, which had been richly decorated with Harry Potter paraphernalia.
One of those students happy to admit to being captivated by the spell of J.K. Rowling’s series of novels was mum-of-three, Iona Shields.
Whilst wearing a replica of the infamous sorting hat from the film, the second year Bio-Medical Science student revealed, “I was so excited when I heard about it (the society). Who doesn’t love Harry Potter?”
For existing Leaky Cauldron member, Stacey Corner, this instance typified the power that University societies has in bringing people together to create meaningful, life-long friendships.
“It brings people from different backgrounds together” Stacey explained, “over the two years I’ve been involved in the society I’ve met people I wouldn’t normally have through this shared interest.”
Finding your identity
But it was words from Games Design student, Joshua Harris, that were to really hit home how important joining a society can be for a student trying to find their true identity in life.
Now a proud member of the LGBTQ+ Society, Josh had previously concealed his sexual identity and had felt the prospect of coming out daunting.
But through talking and the sharing of experiences with his LGBTQ+ family, Josh was able to find the confidence to “just come out” which has made an immeasurable positive change to his life.
“The group really boosted my confidence” revealed a softly spoken Josh, before adding “it gave me the confidence to tell my parents and that is something I will be forever grateful for.”