I think my time as VP in general has been a highlight as I've been able to lead the direction of an organisation.
What will you miss most about Leeds Trinity University?
I'm going to miss the people most at Leeds Trinity, as I've known most of them for five years and have developed good friendships. I'll also miss seeing my two groups of Freshers' go through the processes and become graduates in a few years, as when you've been there from the very start on arrivals day, it would be nice to see how it all goes for them.
What are you going on to do?After five years in Leeds, I've decided to call it a day and will be moving back to Ireland. As a Sport, Health and Nutrition graduate I've got a Sports Coaching role with Omagh District Council, and some part-time and boot camp work lined up, but I'm hoping to get involved in either the Sports Development sector with Sport Northern Ireland, or else find a job in the Charity sector working with children or youth.
What made you run for the Vice-President (VP) role? And stay on for a second term?During my time as an undergraduate, I worked as bar supervisor in HQ and The Lounge (three years), so was heavily involved with the student scene and the social side of the Students' Union. As I came to Leeds Trinity when I was 20, I already had a few years on most of my peers, so was ready to get stuck into work and as I had done most of the partying when I was 18, I wasn't bothered about trying to continue that on – instead I wanted to make a difference, and create lots of memories for LTU students, whilst also showing them that a Students' Union (SU) is about much more than just going to Leeds nightclubs and a mid-week quiz – and thankfully I seem to have done that (according to the students).
What has been your highlight(s) during your time as VP?I think my time as VP in general has been a highlight as I've been able to lead the direction of an organisation, alongside Miki Vyse, re-build a Students' Union, watch Leeds Trinity University change and grow, but from a staff perspective rather than seeing it from a students' point-of-view. However, I think Freshers' Week 2014 has to be my proudest moment, as I organised the biggest line up to ever be hosted at Leeds Trinity University, but it was also the biggest line up in the country at the time. I managed to bring The Loveable Rogues, Mike Dignam, Tim Westwood, Chris Ramsey, Scouting For Girls, Huw Stephens, and Kristian Nairn (Hodor from Game of Thrones) to campus all in one week – and Scouting For Girls was actually an outdoor concert so provided that 'mini festival' feel for the students'.
Neil pictured with Scouting For Girls
If you could start the VP role again and do anything differently what would be it be?It's difficult to say really, as we basically took a non-existent Students' Union and had to almost re-build it from scratch, and although it was challenging, stressful and highly demanding, I'm still glad that I was able to be part of that process, and have now established a fully functioning SU for future sabbatical officers and students to experience. However, if I was starting now, 2015-2016, and the re-building work had already been done, then I think I would focus on the bigger aspects to the role, rather than getting tied down with all of the operational duties like before. I would also set a precedent from the start that although the SU is here for you when you need it – having people knocking on your door at 4am after a night out isn't all that enjoyable – I would distance myself slightly, and leave work at work where possible (which I know my girlfriend would definitely agree with).
What was your most amusing memory in your time as VP?Usually, this is where I would tell a funny story, but to be honest I think rather than amusing, my happiest memory (and this is cheesey) is seeing peoples' reactions to having guest acts and events on site, as they become overwhelmed with excitement and are always so thankful – and it's really nice to be able to give them that moment as you see all the stress from university life disappear, and they just have a good time. I think that with LTU being such a small university, students often think that these acts or events will never come here but I'm glad that I've been able to change that, and have hopefully set the trend for years to come, as although we're small in size, we can still pack a punch!
If you could give one bit of advice to the next VP what would it be?It's important to enjoy your time as VP because if you don't then your heart won't be in it, and this is a job where you need to be 100% committed, or else the students' will catch on to you very quickly. Even though you're in the role to give the students' as much as you can, remember to think of yourself also, and what opportunities you can create, because this isn't a job that's guaranteed for two years (due to being an elected role), and it flies by, so you really want to come out the other end with a heavily weighted CV for employers to fight over.