Student Volunteer of the Year Award Finalist: Michaela
Posted on 4 Mar 2014
Michaela was one of five students shortlisted for the Student Volunteer of the Year Award 2014. Here, she shares her perspective on volunteering…
I am currently studying to become a barrister at Kaplan Law School. I have always wanted to enter the legal profession, since the age of ten, as cliché as it may sound. My main motivation was and still is, to represent those without a voice, make a positive impact in society and above all – contribute to the change that I want to see.
As I got older, I found out that these ideals did not have to wait until I started college, or until I reached the age of eighteen. I began volunteering at Tower Hamlets Law Centre, upon leaving school and was able to accomplish these goals, albeit in a small way.
Seeing the contribution my efforts made to society was empowering for me, as regardless of my age and lack of experience, I was able to assist a busy community law centre full of those in need of legal advice.
As soon as I started my undergraduate law degree at the University of Leicester, I became a witness support volunteer, at the local Crown Court. My role entailed supporting victims and witnesses before and after giving evidence in court. I also began volunteering as an appropriate adult, to ensure that the police conducted interviews fairly. Finally, I spent my summers as a paralegal volunteer aiding those with welfare benefit matters.
I remember contemplating how I would be able to balance the amount of volunteering I was undertaking with my studies, little did I realise, this balancing act was preparing me for the ‘real world.’
Volunteering has been an enjoyable and character building experience, with one of my proudest moments being persuading my law school to send books to a charity for law students in developing countries. As I went through shelves of books checking their suitability, I felt a sense of achievement that no other job could have provided. I was making a difference. Every student who studied from a book that I personally checked would have some more materials to help them accomplish their goals.
So can students change the world? With the amount of graduates each year and the vast amount of volunteering opportunities available, the student contribution would be remarkable. The best-kept secret about volunteering is that it can significantly help employability and can become a central point in interviews, as it has done for me.
So if you’re thinking of volunteering, remember there are opportunities for everyone and you can personally contribute to change in society and even the world at large.