Alumni profile - Cameron Storey
As part of Welcome Week 2020, we caught up with alumnus and newly elected Students' Union VP Humanities & Social Sciences, Cameron Storey (Economics and Politics BSc, 2020): "I think what I really hope to achieve this year is to really make the most of the fact that my role is entirely new. I have the opportunity to determine how the role will look for years to come and I really hope I can set the bar for the role going forward."
Why did you study Economics and Politics at Queen Mary? What sparked your interest in this specific degree? Unlike some people, I really didn’t know what I wanted to study until I was in my final two years at School. I went from wanting to be a vet, to a lawyer; so really opposite ends of the spectrum. But then, I picked up an Economic subject in School and really enjoyed it. I liked that I was learning and understanding how the world works. It felt like I was learning something that could have real practical value. But, as I wasn’t 100% sure about studying an entire degree in Economics, I decided it might be really fun to pair with it with Politics, as the two fields are so heavily interconnected, and because, well, I enjoy keeping up with current affairs.
What aspects of your degree did you find most enjoyable? What modules did you like learning about and was there anything that surprised you in your studies? I think that I definitely enjoyed Politics more than Economics. I realised at the start of my second year that the mathematical side of Economics was very dominant and not really where my strengths were. And in Politics, there was so much variety in terms of what modules I could choose and also in the different types of assessments, which weren’t very exam-focused. Out of all the modules I took, a couple of my favourite ones were those concerned with war and conflict studies. I really enjoyed learning about different countries’ foreign policy and different forms of conceptualising conflict and war. I think what surprised me most, however, was how much I enjoyed writing my dissertation. Getting stuck into something so specific and doing research was actually enjoyable and taught me a lot.
Why did you choose to study at Queen Mary in particular? It’s funny because I think I spent about two hours choosing five universities that offered my degree in London. I definitely wanted to come to London and that was my main priority. But Queen Mary did stand out as it has its massive campus with student accommodation on-site (which was amazing). Once I had my campus tour as well, I was certain that Queen Mary was where I wanted to go. It really did blow me away when I first visited, and I knew I would love my time there.
Congratulations on your new role as Vice President of Humanities & Social Sciences. What made you apply for this role within the Students’ Union? Thank you so much! I guess what made me apply in the first place was the fact I got to know the Executive Officers from last year (2019/20) and I felt really inspired to get involved more with the SU. I wasn’t involved too much in my first couple of years and I really wanted to prove to both myself and everyone that just because you haven’t been involved heavily during your time studying your degree with the Students’ Union, it doesn’t mean that you haven’t got what it takes to become a student representative. And, I guess me standing here today writing this answer to your question proves it!
What do you aim to achieve in this role? What are your main aims going forward? I think what I really hope to achieve this year is to really make the most of the fact that my role is entirely new. I have the opportunity to determine how the role will look for years to come and I really hope I can set the bar for the role going forward. For me, it is about listening and representing students’ views and concerns, making sure that students feel empowered to make a difference in their degrees and courses. But more importantly, to be there for students. They elected me and gave me this position and that’s something really special. In terms of my main aims going forward and given the current global situation in which we are living through, I want to make sure that the student's voice is represented throughout the university. To make sure students are being listened to and are encouraged to get involved to make things better. That, if a student has a problem, this is resolved for them and that no issues slip through. I also want to make sure that every student, regardless of their level of study or whether they live on campus or commute (or are distance learners) feel part of the community. Lastly, an important aspect that will guide my decision making going forward is sustainability. We, as a community of students and as a university, need to make sure we are doing everything we can to promote sustainable practices and encourage others to make either the little or big changes that can have a truly magnificent impact.
How does it feel that you were elected by students to represent the voice(s) of students? How do you plan on ensuring that you truly represent the voice(s) of students? I honestly still feel overwhelmed. I am so honoured and grateful to have been elected. Hundreds of students voting for you to lead them and represent them is an enormous responsibility and something that I consistently make sure I am fulfilling. It’s funny because quite a few people have asked whether or not I would have still run in the elections to become Vice President of Humanities & Social Sciences if I knew back then that Covid-19 would hit. And the answer is yes. My mission is still the same: to represent the voice of students. The circumstances have changed, things will be more difficult, and we may come across difficult situations in the coming year, but I was elected by students and I owe it to those who elected me to do the best I can. And as I answered in the previous question, I have a set of values and principles that guide me to ensure that I am representing the student's voice. I constantly refer back to these and I think that this is what will guarantee both for myself and students that I am truly representing them.
Is there any advice you would give to current students or recent graduates considering their career options? I think it would be a mistake to downplay the situation in which the job market is in right now, especially for recent graduates, graduating students next year, or even current students looking for internships and work experience. Things are going to be more difficult and employers will, most likely, have more limited resources and may not go ahead with internships, placements or even grad schemes. But I think the most important thing to do right now is to focus on your own mindset. My advice would be to ask yourselves: what I can do right now to increase my employability? Because at the end of the day, that is what I believe is most important right now. And there are so many things you can do to really stick out from the crowd; so, my suggestion would be to use this time of uncertainty to refocus, find an area where to direct your energy, and plan ahead for the future.
What was so special about your time at Queen Mary? Definitely the people and friends I met along the way. I have met some of the nicest and best people during my time at university and cannot imagine how my life would look without them. And I owe that to my involvement as a volunteer for the SU’s Welcome Crew in my second year of studies. Welcoming new students to the university was amazing. So many were nervous (as were their parents) and alleviating some of their concerns and fears really made me feel like I was having an impact at the very start of their university experience. Another really memorable moment was attending numerous events at Drapers with friends, such good memories and friendships came out of those nights and, again, made my university experience the best it could be.
Were you involved in any extracurricular activities during your studies, e.g. sports, societies, any Ambassador roles? As far as sports and societies go, I didn’t really get involved too much, apart from a few different events I attended over the years. As I said above, I was a member of Welcome Crew at the SU for two years which was amazing. But I was also a Course Representative for my degree for my entire time at university. Collecting and gathering student feedback and presenting this to the staff at SSLC’s really taught me a lot about responsibility and will undoubtedly serve me well in my new role within the SU.
Do you have a favourite spot on campus? I think most people do. Mine are the views from the Graduate Centre roof terrace. The skyline of London is incredible, and when I first went up there, it really made me feel like I was starting a whole new chapter amidst so many other incredible and unique individuals. Reflecting on how much I could accomplish and do by looking at the amazing city of London and all it could offer really inspired me to go forward and enjoy every moment of my time at university.