Jasmine joined the ESU in 2015 having had what she describes as ‘an incredible experience’ at our Debate Academy summer school. She is now studying English and History at the University of Birmingham and regularly volunteers for the ESU. Here she tells us a little bit about herself.
How did you come to hear about the ESU?
Throughout my secondary school career (at King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls) I competed in the ESU-Churchill Public Speaking Competitions, receiving the Best Chairperson Award at a regional level, and I also attended the Debate Academy summer school twice. Aside from gaining greater rhetorical skills, both of these experiences boosted my confidence immeasurably and shaped me into someone who was no longer afraid to openly voice their opinions. After leaving school, I participated in the Secondary School Exchange program and lived at Culver Academies in rural Indiana for a year. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity taught me how to be independent; gave me new interests, such as radio broadcasting and rowing; and allowed me to forge friendships that I know will last for years on end.
Tell us about how you volunteer for the ESU and what you get out if it.
I started volunteering for the ESU this year, acting as a judge for the Public Speaking and Performing Shakespeare competitions. Despite the challenges posed by everything taking place online, I thoroughly enjoyed watching and listening to so many talented young people from all across the country. It was rather odd to be on the other end of things, adjudicating instead of speaking, but it was absolutely invaluable, because I was able to see how to improve my own verbal skills by watching others.
I was also recently asked to introduce the Jatinder Verma event about diversity in the arts. The alumni network at the ESU is brilliant and it is quite customary for unique opportunities like this to be offered to many of us throughout the year.
What words of advice do you have for other alumni/young members?
Your voice is just as important as anybody else’s. Do not be intimidated or silenced by someone who is older than you – they may be your senior in age, but not necessarily in any other regard. As young members, we are the future of the ESU, which means we have the responsibility to mould this institution into something that is beneficial for us and the next generations to come.
Whom do you admire and why?
Currently, the person I most admire is Zarah Sultana (the Member of Parliament for Coventry South), because she is fearless and continuously attempts to hold our government accountable for their failings. As a young British Asian woman, it is inspiring to see someone similar to me in a traditionally white, male-dominated space. I particularly admire her most recent work exposing the UK’s involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as it is refreshing to see glimmers of truth in a world of misinformation.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Binge-watching cartoon sitcoms on Netflix!
Tell us something surprising about you.
For my Gold Duke of Edinburgh, I sailed across the English Channel to France and back.
What’s the most important lesson life has taught you?
Everything happens for a reason. If you get rejected from your dream university or job, it is because better things are around the corner.