Sam Smith is a student studying for an MSc in Sustainable Energy and Environment. He is Chair of the Board of Student Volunteering Cardiff, one of the largest student volunteering organisations in the UK for which he was recently awarded the Leading Wales Young Leader Award.…
Sam Smith with his Leading Wales award
I remember the excitement I felt when I arrived in Cardiff as a fresher. I had heard about the opportunities that university had to offer, and when I finally made it to the Societies Fayre I nearly fainted with joy at all the possibilities.
It was invigorating to stand in a room filled with students that had unhealthy passions for art, debating, real ale and dance, and the slightly odd but beautiful interests, such as extreme puddle jumping, bell ringing and cheese appreciation. After skipping past these intriguing societies, I settled on a more standard selection, signing up to Xpress Radio, Ultimate Frisbee, Engineers Without Borders, Jazz Society, People & Planet, Amnesty, and most importantly, Student Volunteering Cardiff (SVC). It was more than enough to keep me busy.
Stumbling across SVC was a dream come true. During my gap year before starting university, I spent the summer working as a counsellor for children with special needs in America. I had such an enjoyable time that I was determined to find something similar in Cardiff. SVC is a student led charity based in the Studentsí Union. It runs around 36 projects throughout the community of Cardiff involving over 1,000 volunteers from Cardiff University. I signed up instantly and started volunteering on a project for children with autism.,
Since then, I have been involved in various projects, mostly in special needs. I began coordinating projects in 2005, and this eventually led to being part of the executive committee. Over the last year I have been the Chair of the charity, a role that has both been challenging and enjoyable. I have become passionate about volunteering and the positive effect it has on local community. It has been a pleasure and privilege to meet like-minded people and to see the positive difference that volunteering can make on peoplesí lives. The role has inspired and helped me in considering future career paths, and has also been very rewarding: recently I was honoured to receive the Leading Wales Young Leader Award.
Being at here has also been great for music. Soon after starting University, I began DJ'ing, around at the odd house party, and some of the bars and clubs. University has been a great place to meet musicians and find people with passions for quality music. It has enabled me to develop skills as a DJ and learn the ropes of producing and presenting radio shows, a skill and experience that would be difficult to find outside university. I have spent many enjoyable afternoons at Xpress Radio, a student-led radio station that is situated in the Studentsí Union, presenting shows on folk, soul and jazz music, together with discussion shows on science and the environment.
My undergraduate degree was in Medical Engineering BEng; fuelled by a keen interest in applied science and medicine, I thought it would be interesting to understand the bridge between the two subjects. Although I greatly enjoyed these studies, another passion was growing - our impact on the environment. Issues such as climate change, biodiversity, food, energy, and waste present huge challenges for our society and seem to be cast aside far too often in our lifestyles. I decided to do an MSc in Sustainable Energy and the Environment to try and understand these issues more clearly, and I am very grateful for having the opportunity to study this. I hope that through my studies I will be able to reduce my impact on the environment, and help others to do the same.