Keelite of the Month: September 2017: Tom Snape

2017 (International Relations and Politics)

SU Team 2017 What am I doing now?
I am the Union Development and Democracy Officer at Keele Students’ Union. This means I’m responsible for making sure KeeleSU as an organisation is responding to what students want whilst representing students at the highest levels of the University and in the local community.
Photo left: The KeeleSU Officer Team 2017/18. Sam Gibbons (2017) (Activities and Community Officer); Aysha Panter (2017) (Welfare and Internationalisation Officer); Tom Snape (2017) (Union Development and Democracy Officer); Jeff Wiltshire (2016) (Education Officer); Meghan Harrison (2016) (Athletic Union and Sport Officer, and AU President)

How did you get to where you are now?  
The previous Union Development and Democracy Officer resigned after winning a re-election campaign. This caused a by-election late in the year, and there were eight candidates but ultimately I won. I had a lot of support from my friends throughout the campaign who definitely contributed to the final result!

Graduation Day 2017 What has been your biggest achievement so far?  
Probably graduating with a first class degree and receiving the Martin Harrison Politics Dissertation Prize for writing the best politics dissertation of my year. It’s really satisfying to work so hard for so long on a project I cared a lot about and have it all pay off.
Photo right: Tom on Graduation Day.

And your biggest mistake?
My biggest mistake is not focusing as much on my physical fitness over the course of my degree. I threw myself into my studies, societies and the Students’ Union and didn’t really think much about my physical fitness. Physical fitness is so important and can massively affect your mental health, this is something I’ll be looking to improve over the coming years.

What are your ambitions now?
As an Officer at the Students’ Union, my biggest overall ambition is to improve the way we listen to and engage with students. Keele’s students have changed so much since it was founded; we have a growing off campus community who have their own issues and needs that the SU should be grappling with. As things stand you still have to attend the old style ‘general meetings’ on a monthly weekday evening to have your voice heard on issues. This year I’ll be working on modernising that system so that all students have a chance to be heard. Personally, I’d like to use the skills and experience I’ve acquired here to work in the third sector (for charities or NGOs) to try and help tackle some of the problems facing our society and the planet such as poverty and climate change.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to work in a similar field?  
Get involved. There are so many opportunities at Keele for you to get involved in things that you’re really passionate about, particularly though societies, clubs and volunteering. You can do so much more than simply study for a degree and learn and develop so much because of it.

What made you choose Keele University?   
I visited on an open day and I fell in love with the green campus and community-feel of Keele instantly. I also really valued the scope for flexibility in choosing modules, allowing me to decide what I wanted to focus on.

What kind of a student were you?  
A massive ‘keen bean’ and a bit of a nerd. As soon as I arrived at Keele I got involved in loads of different societies, from Model United Nations to the Scouts Network, and although as the years went on I left some of these societies I remained highly involved and motivated. I also got involved in the wider Keele community; in 2015 I was elected onto the Keele Parish Council. Academically I did a reasonable job at staying on top of my workload. Although I ended up doing quite a few late nights in the library, I managed to avoid the dreaded ‘all nighter’ which makes me feel a bit like I cheated at University.
SPIRE Ball with friends 2016 Photo left: With friends at the 2016 SPIRE Ball

How has Keele influenced your life?  
Keele has had a massive impact on my life. I’ve met some of my best friends here, and had so many fantastic experiences and learnt so much here.
Keele has made me a more confident and capable individual and I can’t thank everyone enough for it!

What is your favourite memory of Keele?
The day I won my election. I got up early and headed to the centre of campus to set up my stall. It was bright and warm but not too hot, so campus was beautiful and a joy to walk around. All day I was being cheered on by my friends and peers who came to see me and help out. After voting closed I chaired my final Union General Meeting (I was the outgoing Chair of Union Council), which I’ve always enjoyed. Then came the results - which was nail-biting - but eventually I won, which meant a very emotional call home to tell my family and lots of shaking hands and hugs from my friends and campaign team. The whole day was topped off my going to the KPA Clubhouse of a drink and some food with all my friends
Tom's election banner Photo right: With my election banner shortly before winning my election.

What is your impression of Keele now?  
When I first visited Keele I thought it was a lovely green campus with a fantastic community feel. It definitely is that, but it’s so much more. It’s a community of communities, there are so many different groups who all mix and mingle and overlap and know each other and work together.  It’s a place where everyone is free to pursue their passions in a supportive environment.

Anything else you would like to add?
University life can be great and although I did work hard and do a lot it’s always important to look after yourself. Stress in a University setting is a massive issue, so if you’re struggling with it there’s no shame in asking for help or toning down the amount of work you’re doing. It’s much better to do a little bit less really well than try and do loads, burn out and end up not finishing anything.