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Emily Horsfall - Keelite of the Month August 2016
2016 History and Law
What are you doing now?
I have just taken office as Keele Students’ Union’s first Union Development and Democracy Officer. After the 2015 Democratic review, it was decided to remove the titles of President and Vice President and to create five full time officer roles with new titles, and this is one of them!
Photo (below left): With my predecessor Craig Heath (2015) at the KeeleSU Societies Ball, 2016.
How did you get to where you are now?
I wrote a Buzzfeed article called ’12 dogs that think you should elect Emily’. I would like to give that and the dogs a lot of credit for my victory, plus an excellent and loyal group of friends who helped me campaign in the snow and rain for 4 days and just about kept me sane.
What has been your biggest achievement so far?
Joining a sports team. I have always and will always hate exercise, and I am still completely confused by people that run for pleasure; but when I joined Lacrosse at the beginning of my second year I had no idea how much it was going to become part of my life at Keele. I had never played lacrosse before and this pushed me hugely outside of my comfort zone; I wasn’t trying to get people registered to vote or chairing a meeting, I was running around a field chasing a small ball with a stick. The people I play with have become my best friends and from this, one of my biggest achievements has been becoming Club Captain and winning our Varsity match against Staffordshire University 16-2 this year.
And your biggest mistake?
Occasionally / regularly putting my extra-curricular before my degree… and, to be honest, I don’t even really regret this (sorry to all my tutors).
What are your ambitions now?
To get as many students registered to vote and make them understand why it is important - and also to value their vote and to use it wisely. Student engagement in local, national and Union politics can always be improved and now more than ever it is important that we aren’t apathetic to the way students are treated and how our experience is shaped by outside forces. As a collective, the student movement can be incredibly powerful, but this has to be a united and informed in what it is fighting for. I have not lost faith in national student politics, and believe change is possible, as long as we remember that representing all students is at the heart of it.
Photo (right): The moment I heard I had been elected as the first Union Development and Democracy Officer, 2016.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?
Get involved in as much as you can at university. It will be exhausting and your parents will tell you to focus more on your course, but some of the things I have done outside of my course have been the most rewarding and valuable experiences of my whole life. That is not to say that some of the things I have done through my degree haven’t been hugely fulfilling: in my second year, my Law seminar class did a toy drive for a local asylum seeker charity that we had studied and collected and wrapped over 400 toys for children who would not have had a Christmas without it.
I would also advise taking advantage of all the weird opportunities university throws at you; is there a fencing taster session on? Try it. A society bringing a guest speaker? Go and listen. You never know where or when you’re going to hear or do something or meet someone amazing that could affect your studies or life outside your degree.
What made you choose Keele University?
When I visited on an open day, Keele was everything I had always expected from a university. After I had seen the campus, and fallen in love with the idea of studying a dual honours course, Keele was really the only choice for me.
What kind of a student were you?
Academically, a terrible one. I loved my course and what I was studying for the most part, but had little self-discipline when it came to deadlines. I would often find myself in the library very late at night, really interested in a topic but without the time to properly explore it.
Overall though I would say I have had a very well rounded and enriching university experience, taking part in activities across campus in and outside of my degree. I joined a society committee in my first week at Keele and became a student ambassador in my first year, and graduated having been an academic course representative, Club Captain of a sports team, a Student Leader for the ambassador programme, a committee member for five societies, including being a founding member of three of these, a member of countless clubs and Chair of Student Council.
Photo left: Keele Labour Students and I meet the MEP for the West Midlands Sion Simons, in the European Parliament in Brussels.
Essentially, I was and still am very keen for Keele and my dual honours degree - and amazing student activities provisions allowed me to follow my interests.
How has Keele influenced your life?
There is no way to really measure how Keele has influenced my life because for the past three years (and now for one more), Keele has been my life. I know that Keele has given me the best three years of my life, and the best friends I could have asked for. Keele has made me more confident and helped me expand my interests and find somewhere my nerdy love of democracy fits in.
What is your favourite memory of Keele?
In May 2015, there was an SU by-election, a national general election (in case anyone missed that) and all of my second year assessment deadlines within three days of each other. I was running to be a Parish Councillor for Keele, and Chair of Student Council and had very little sleep. After polls closed on the Friday for the SU election, my mum came to Keele (and brought my dog) and we went for dinner with other candidates and my friends. I don’t know if it was because I was so tired, or just very emotional about the whole situation, but I remember this as a really happy time, full of food and excitement about the results. One thing I will always remember from elections at Keele is the complete support I have received from my friends and the people around me; having your friends actively campaign for you, whether this is sharing things on social media or handing leaflets out for you, is completely overwhelming and is something I will be forever grateful for.
Photo right: With my dog Seymour after winning our Varsity lacrosse match.
What is your impression of Keele now?
Keele is even weirder after three years than I could ever have expected when I saw a Quidditch training session during an Open Day whilst I was still completing my A-levels. I feel so at home here, and believe that there is a place for everyone at Keele. The opportunities and experiences that Keele provides aren’t available anywhere else and I have no regrets in coming here. I see so much potential in Keele, and am excited to be representing its students and sharing the work we do here with the wider community and movement.
Anything else you would like to add?
I have had a very positive experience at Keele, but that is not to say that it was always easy. Being a student is hard no matter where you are, and each course and hobby comes with its own challenges, but it is so, so worth it. Every piece of work I’ve stressed over, every sleepless night in the library and every exhausting campaign has brought me to this point: starting a job that is going to pay me to do what I am most passionate about; I really couldn’t ask for more.
Photo left: With my fellow officers and SU staff at the SU16 awards, at which Keele won two top national awards.
I’d also like to wish all the luck in the world to everyone graduating this year, and all my friends that are moving on from Keele. My experience at Keele would not have been what it was without them; I hope they have enjoyed their time here as much as I have and that it has helped them get to where they want to be.