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Student Volunteer of the Year 2015: One year later

Posted on 18 Feb 2016

Last year during SVW 2015, we presented the Student Volunteer of the Year Award to Conor McGlacken, a student at Bristol University. One year later, Rachel from the SVW Team gave him a call to find out what he'd been up to since winning…

Conor and Engineers Without Borders staff with his Award during SVW 2015

What have you been up to since winning the Award last year?

Last summer I participated in a programme with an NGO called Engineering World Health in Tanzania. I spent a month doing a course on hospital equipment maintenance & design, then I spent a month working in a town called Moshi in Tanzania repairing donated hospital equipment.

I’m now in my final year at Bristol. My trustee role at Engineers Without Borders finished in September. I’m still involved at branch level and delivering talks locally, and I’ve been attending a few conferences to keep up with developments in technology and international development. Last term I was working hard on my degree, but this term I’ve got a bit more free time and I’m looking for stuff to get involved in at the moment. I’m still linked to EWB Bristol so I’m hoping to help out with some of their ongoing projects.

Conor working on an oxygen concentrator in Tanzania last summer. Photo taken by Jaya Pokuri.

What's the plan after your graduate?

First I’m going to be working for Engineering World Health (the organisation I volunteered with last summer) as a member of staff for 3 months, overseeing volunteers in Tanzania. Getting this job was a direct result of volunteering on the programme last year, and I was able to mention winning the Student Volunteer of the Year Award in my application.

After the summer I’ve got a job lined up as a mechanical engineer with a product design company, DCA Design International - they work on consumer goods, medical devices and some stuff in the transport sector.

Who did you donate your £1,000 prize to and why?

I donated the money to Engineers Without Borders, the charity that I volunteered with throughout my degree. Having been a trustee for them, I knew about the importance of unrestricted funding, so I let them decide which of their programmes would benefit most from the donation.

We've got a brand new Award longlist for 2016. What’s your message to them?

For the organisation or cause that you volunteer with, the Student Volunteer of the Year Award is a great opportunity to gain exposure for them on a national platform. Winning the award last year was also a big win for Engineers Without Borders UK; even now, a year later, it still pops up in news articles and on Twitter.

So make the most of it on a personal level, for the organisation and for the cause. Winning volunteering awards, especially national ones like the Student Volunteer of the Year Award, as a student can help you to gain recognition for all volunteers at your college/uni to make sure its well supported by your college/university leadership.

And of course on a personal level it’s an impressive accomplishment to be longlisted or shortlisted. Don’t be embarrassed about it, and use it to make an even bigger impact for your cause!

And finally, why is it so important for students to volunteer while they’re at college or uni?

There’s definitely huge scope to have a direct impact on whatever cause it is that you’re working on. It’s one of the few times in your life where you have time and resources (whether that’s a physical space, money, support, networks) to make that kind of impact. You’re also likely to be surrounded by so many other people who share your interest, and you never know where the skills you gain could lead you beyond college or university.

Find Conor on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Conor McGlacken

Conor is in his final year studying Engineering Design at Bristol University. He was the Student Volunteer of the Year Award winner in 2015.

Categories: Award