UCL News


Seven questions with UCL's Student Telephone Fundraisers

1 May 2015

This week we put seven questions to Roomi Chowdury, Tessa Snelga and Alex Hanrahan, three of UCL'S Student Telephone Fundraisers based within the UCL Development and Alumni Relations Office.

Seven questions with UCL's Student Telephone Fundraisers

Tell us more about the work you do as student callers.

Tessa Snelgar (TS): As a student caller I chat with UCL alumni, ask them what they are up to now, if they remain in contact with UCL, and if not, how we could facilitate this. I then choose a few of the multitude of fascinating things UCL is involved in, from medical research projects and supporting students with grants to The Institute of Making, and I ask them if they would like to support UCL by make a regular donation to support this work.

Alex Hanrahan (AH): We catch up with UCL alumni and find out what they've been up to since leaving, update them on all the goings on at UCL and ask if they'd like to support UCL students and the amazing work that goes on here.

Roomi Chowdury (RC): I started as student caller in October 2012 when I started my PhD (having completed my undergraduate here). It really opened my eyes to the amazing projects taking place here and the impact that alumni support has on students.  Also, having become a caller, a number of other job opportunities have arisen - I also work for events such as Lunch Hour Lectures, graduation ceremonies and alumni reunions, as well as getting a chance to take part in voluntary work such as Philanthropy Month.

What makes it so important (and interesting)?

TS: Unlike the States, we do not have the same 'culture of giving' here in the UK, and it is not as common for those who leave to give back to their universities when they leave. Student callers try and invigorate and enthuse, enlighten and inspire, by spreading the word on all that UCL is doing. This is of course in the hope that generous alumni will value such work and contribute to supporting UCL by donating.

AH: Alumni generosity enables everything from scholarships and bursaries, to the building and refurbishment of student spaces, and even much of the world leading research we do at UCL. As well as things close to home, alumni support has funded women's health projects in Malawi and a rebuilding Haiti project, the list is endless.
RC: Having received a bursary during my undergraduate degree here, I really understood the benefit of alumni giving and felt that helping raise money for such a worthy cause would be a small way for me to give back. Many people don't realise the extent to which this fundraising enriches their experiences here, from clubs and societies to student hardship funds to world-changing research and so on.

Tell us about something you are working on now which is top of your to-do list?

TS: I am currently studying for my 'Nutrition and Public Health' module exam, and am also working on a job application for a Research Assistant role on a study at Oxford University looking at mindfulness meditation in adolescents as part of the 'Mindfulness in Schools' project.

AH: At the moment I think my to do list looks like most undergrads at UCL: revise for exams!

RC: I have just had my first paper published so am now looking at ways in which I can develop my research further. Work-wise, we're recruiting a new cohort of callers soon so that's the highest priority.

What are you studying and when do you graduate?

TS: I am studying my 'Global Health and Development' MSc at the Institute of Global Health and I finish in September 2015.

AH: I'm studying a BA English and I'd like to do a PGCE then teach in secondary school after graduation.

RC: I'm currently in the third (penultimate) year of my PhD in Drug Discovery (Chemistry) having obtained an MSci in Chemistry here (2008-2012) so this is my 7th year at UCL!

Why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?

TS: I am a Midwife by trade, and immediately after I qualified in 2007, I travelled to Kenya for a midwifery elective. In Pumwani Maternity Hospital, Nairobi, I observed the women labour, and the midwives and doctors work, and this was a life changing experience.

I knew though, that I needed to understand more about global health in general in order to enhance my ability as midwife, teacher, and researcher. The course has helped me enormously, lending rich insight into the current concepts and controversies regarding international health, global health systems, research methods, and the politics that transcends it all. 

AH: What I love most about literature is how it takes you to different places and into different people's lives, both real and fictional, as well as into other disciplines. To appreciate literature you often have to be sensitive to its context, so that means reading things like Darwin or Marx or feminist, postcolonial, and queer writings to see how their ideas shaped literature.

RC: "Be the change you want to see in the world" - that's what I'd like to do. Like most PhD students, I'm not sure exactly what I want to do in the future but I want to be in a position where I can help as many people as possible with the skills I've acquired.

What is the most interesting thing you've done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?

TS: I have been so inspired at UCL - it is teaming with life and interesting people discussing interesting things. On October 30th 2014, I cycled to LSE to hear a fascinating talk linked to Médecins Sans Frontières' (MSF) report, 'Between Rhetoric and Reality: The Ongoing Struggle to Access Healthcare in Afghanistan'. The panel of experts reflected back on more than a decade of international aid and investment and discuss what is next for Afghanistan.

AH: I've really enjoyed being part of the Sign Language Society. It's been fun and interesting to learn another and completely different language. It's also made me much more aware of how hearing people communicate and miscommunicate, and also how we treat people with different needs.

RC: As a PhD student, we often get the opportunity to help in undergrad lab sessions and also during school trips to the chemistry department. It's a nice feeling knowing that I'm able to help students who are having similar problems as I did when I was in their place and possibly even inspiring young people to consider studying Chemistry.

Describe your perfect evening (or weekend) after a long week

TS: My perfect weekend would involve a long walk in the countryside with my boyfriend Cliff, a pint of cider in an old pub and Thai food for dinner. I love the cinema so if I were feeling flush, I would go there too, fill a tub with pick'n'mix, and travel temporarily to a different place in front of the big screen. Bliss.

AH: Friday would involve friends, drinking, and dancing. Saturday for me is all about brunch and exploring (or escaping) the city. And you can't really beat a leisurely Sunday with roast lunch in the middle.

RC: Winding down with my partner and chilling with the pets. Maybe going for a walk or drive somewhere scenic and enjoying some good food and a nice film. It's the little things.

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