Column from the Abbeygate student president

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18 year old Aaron McIntyre from Bury St Edmunds studies A Levels at Abbeygate Sixth Form College. He was voted in as president of the student union back in November 2020. Here he reflects on his role, what he has achieved so far and his plans for the future.

It was a privilege to be voted as student president over a year ago at Abbeygate and be a figurehead for the college. I believe that we (Abbeygate) are a great stepping stone between school and university and we wanted to create a union to represent the views of students and create a dialogue between us, teachers and senior managers.

I’m not in this for personal gain. I got involved because I want to improve people’s lives and stand up for the voices of students.

When I first came to the college it was a brand new place of study and I had previously been at another school and felt settled there. But I can honestly say that coming here was the best decision I’ve ever made. In addition to the education that is provided, the college is determined to give additional connections and opportunities to students both inside and outside of the classroom.

I’ve been lucky to meet a diverse range of people in my role and I’ve enjoyed spending time with everyone from Baronesses to business leaders.

It’s not just me that gets to benefit from these opportunities – for example, other groups of students teamed up with a university in Japan on a science project and a group of six learners will be working with British Sugar and Zeiss to try and solve a farm related conundrum.

As a college we also get to support and work with the local community which is something I enjoy. One of the proudest moments saw the whole college come together to donate and then distribute clothes to refugees who had to flee from Afghanistan.

We have also raised funds for national campaigns like Children in Need and we have recently worked with The Alzheimer’s Society and GEE Whizz charity.

One of my greatest achievements so far was helping us become part of the National Union of Students (NUS). To become part of a body that has over two million people gives us a voice on a national stage.

I’m also proud to work with and support teachers at the college and I get to hear their concerns. It’s been tough for teachers as well as students throughout lockdown and they have had to adapt to the way they work. That hasn’t been easy and it’s been interesting working to ultimately benefit all.

It’s not all super serious though. We once hosted our own version of the TV show called Take Me Out. Whilst couples didn’t end up spending a weekend on the isle of Fernando like on the programme, they did get to spend an hour in our canteen drinking tea and eating cakes.

In terms of my legacy, I’m glad of what I’ve been able to help set up and I firmly believe that the role of president and our student union it will develop into something wonderful.

Ultimately, creating a brilliant working relationship between staff and students is my aim.

And speaking more generally at the start of a new calendar year, I guess my message to the people of Bury in 2022 is that we all need to keep listening to each other and working together, follow the rules and stay safe. Happy New Year.