Seven Questions with... Ella Denton
2 May 2023
This week we meet UCL student Ella Denton, who is currently studying History with Swedish. Here, she chats to us about working as a founding president of student charity movement Raise UCL, and her favorite spot in London for sustainable shopping.
What are you studying, why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?
I’m studying History with Swedish. I’m interested in history because I’m interested in people. Uncovering hidden stories, and understanding what makes us all tick, has been an amazing part of my first year. I’m studying Swedish because I lived in Stockholm in my gap year, and I want to maintain my Swedish language in order to communicate with my family. As for the future, I’m not so sure, but I would really like to work in public policy or potentially in the public history sphere. Working in film or TV would be the dream.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?
The most interesting thing I’ve done is being the founding president of Raise UCL. Raise is a student charity movement which places an emphasis on positive, deliberate giving. It encourages students to give a personally significant amount to a really effective charity, and then that donation serves as a ticket to our summer party. At the summer party, we celebrate the impact that we’ve had with our donations, and enjoy local food and student talent.
Raise was founded in Cambridge, but there are now nine Raise chapters across the country which have raised over £382,000 in just five years. I’m excited and honoured to be leading Raise’s inauguration at UCL – the sky really is the limit. We have such a massive opportunity for impact here, so if you’re interested in helping out for our official launch in September 2023, please get in touch!
Have you discovered any hidden gems during your time at UCL?
Perhaps not a gem to anyone who’s not a UCL history nerd like myself, but I always love to look up at the beautiful painting of the founders of UCL in the main library, opposite the law study room. I think it’s so cool that there are all these iconic pieces of UCL history all around us, hiding in plain sight.
Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London:
- Take a walk on Marylebone High Street – spend as long as possible in Daunt Books, and then stop in for what I will back as London’s best pizza, at Homeslice.
- As a lover of beautiful and sustainable clothes, I have to recommend visiting the Reformation store in Covent Garden. I’m not ashamed to admit that it is my happy place, even if it is vastly outside of a student budget.
- See anything in the West End – I saw Hamilton last summer and was well and truly blown away, though I’m aware I’m very late to the hype.
What’s one thing you’d like to see in a post-Covid world?
More gratitude for social interactions! This is something I’m already feeling as I plan events for Raise, imagining how many people we’ll be bringing together to celebrate throughout the year – especially if we’re also able to collaborate with the new LSE chapter, as is my hope. It’s crazy to think that social gatherings were nonexistent not long ago, so I hope that we don’t take them for granted in the future. This desire to bring people together – to raise money for an amazing cause, and to hopefully inspire a change in the way students think about charity – has been my North Star throughout all the challenges of getting Raise established at UCL.
Who inspires you and why?
I think one of my host mums from my year abroad, Lotta, is a major source of inspiration to me. Life hasn’t always dealt her the easiest hand, but she is still one of the happiest, kindest and most creative people I know. She’s also an incredible mother. She taught me the importance of always showing up for the people you care about – and if you can do it with a smile on your face and maybe a cheesy joke on hand, even better.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
I actually have a namesake! There is a little Labradoodle named after me in Sweden, carrying on the Ella legacy.