Jakob Sexton began his journey at ULaw by studying the LLB at our Manchester campus. He went on to become the Vice-President for Manchester and in his final year he became the Course Representative for the LLB. In July 2019 Jakob was voted the Student Association President responsible for representing student interests across the University. We caught up with Jakob to discuss his priorities while in the position and his hopes for the future.
To apply for the position of Student Association President I had to go through a rigorous application process; it starts with the initial application, then an interview where I had to prepare a presentation on my priorities and then I had to run for an election. The election is where the entire student body has to vote based on my manifesto for the year; I can then serve a year term, with a maximum of 2 years in the role. The reason I put myself forward for the position is so I could make an impact on the overall student experience: the students at our university deserve the best and I want to represent them to the best of my ability to ensure this.
I’m not sure if I can call any day in this role ‘normal’. Every day usually starts with a train journey, although I live in Manchester I have to travel to all campuses to meet with students and colleagues. On most days I will have a variety of phone calls and meetings; these can range from team catch ups to programme approvals. Whenever I have a free moment, I like to walk around the campus and chat with students about their experience at ULaw, this helps me better represent their interests.
The Student Association is made up of 3 members of staff who support students in different ways. In my role, I support students by listening to their voices and influencing change within the University by using Student Parliament as a feedback channel. Harry, our Clubs, Societies and Communications Coordinator supports students by helping them develop their clubs and societies. Harry makes sure that they run on campus and students can seek support when needed. David, our Executive Officer works on student engagement and most importantly supports students by advising on complaints, disciplinary matters and appeals.
The most important aspect of my role is representing student interests, this is my lead within the University. This is incredibly important as it means the student voice is at the heart of the University decision making process; I can use my voice to ensure that decisions are made taking into account the student body.
The most important benefit to having a Student Association is the ability to have your voice heard at all levels. We will always welcome feedback so we can work to enhance the student experience, that’s what all of our work comes down to, ensuring that students have the best experience possible.
The first highlight I can think of as Student Association president was the summer ball in my second year, when a small group of us took on all the planning for the campus event. At times, it was extremely challenging and definitely tested the group. However, we all pushed through and made, what I would consider, a great event for everyone. The prosecco definitely helped me get through it. Although the academic side of the University will always be a highlight, I’m a sucker for a good social event.
I love the freedom that we have as a department, this means I can dedicate my time to what I think is most important, students. Everyone at ULaw is very dedicated to improving the student experience from all aspects, the openness to change from everyone I have met powers my drive to do the best. Working with students is easy for me because I have just finished my LLB in Manchester, some days I still feel like a student at heart; this is why I enjoy working with students so much.
Whenever students ask for advice I always tell them that time management is very important. As someone who has just completed the LLB, I know that structure in your life is essential. Trying to balance university work with personal life can be hard and I always recommend that students use their calendar for everything. Whether it be fitting in your weekly shop or finishing notes for a workshop, it makes your experience so much easier.
As cliché as it may sound, my inspiration is my mum. Although she doesn’t have a career in law, seeing how hard she has worked on her own business has made me want to work as hard as possible to succeed. The determination and confidence she has, has taught me key skills to thrive in the work I do.
At the moment I’m putting a huge focus on promotion, the aim is for every student at ULaw to know who I am and know what the Student Association is. I’m currently planning my February tour of all campuses so I can meet with as many students as possible as hearing the student voice is integral to my role. I’ll also be preparing for the Presidential elections which start in May; this is where students can apply for my role as the Student Association President, which is followed by an election of the entire student body.
I actually get really excited by the amount of travel I get to do, I’ve always wanted to see more of the UK and now I have the chance. Every day I’m in a different location and I love getting to visit so many cities and meet lots of new people.
I am hoping to complete the LPC in the next couple of years, I’m also starting to apply for training contracts with a 2022 start. The dream is to be a solicitor, possibly in employment law. However, I’m still unsure of what area I want to specialise in. Until then, I’ll be working here at ULaw for the year and if I’m re-elected, a second.
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