Queen Mary Alumni

Alumni profile - Mat Robathan

We caught up with alumnus and newly elected Students' Union VP Barts and The London, Mat Robathan (Global Public Health BSc, 2019): "I will spend my year in office fighting for, defending and modernising the BL identity... Part of this will involve increasing representation within our curricula, practices and staff so everyone feels represented and welcome within Barts and The London."

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Why did you study Global Public Health at Barts and The London? I’m a fourth-year medical student who joined Barts and The London (BL) and Queen Mary back in 2015. In 2018, having loved BL so much, I decided to extend my studies here by undertaking a 1-year intercalated degree in Global Public Health!

I choose to do Global Public Health as, as a future medic, I really wanted to learn more about the social determinants of health and the different healthcare systems around the world! I have also always been really interested in how politics and social norms can affect and influence health and health provisions. This was something I wanted to explore within the Global Health programme.

Now I’m extending my time here again by being the VP Barts and The London for the upcoming year.

What aspects of your degree did you find most enjoyable? I loved doing my dissertation on the Barts PFI project as I got to learn more about some of the hospitals I undertake my medical studies at and a bit more about their history! I also found learning about sexuality and its influence on health really fascinating. The course provided a great safe space for me to discuss key issues with fellow students and staff and grow through this as an individual.

Why did you choose to study at Barts and The London in particular? Who wouldn’t want to hang out in the Griff after a long day?

On a more serious note, I really liked the people! Barts and The London is a real community and it holds a very special place in my heart! Everyone is so friendly and supportive. Who wouldn’t want to study here?

Congratulations on your new role as Vice President Barts and The London. What made you apply for this role within the Students’ Union? I’ve been involved in the SU since my first year and I am passionate about improving representation within the union, the university and our curricula.

Having been involved in the SU for several years, I felt I had identified some areas I wanted to change or develop further, but as a part-time rep, I never had the time or mandate to make those changes. Because the VP BL role is a full-time position, I now have a whole year to dedicate to making the SU and BLSA even better.

One of my key manifesto pledges is to ensure BLSA and BL is as inclusive as it can be. I want to work on better engaging the students and campuses that traditionally engage less within the SU. That includes making sure our allied courses feel just as represented by BLSA as the medical and dental courses!

What do you aim to achieve in this role? I want to ensure all BL courses are engaged and integrated within BLSA. I will spend my year in office fighting for, defending and modernising the BL identity. I will ensure our campuses feel listened to and looked after. Part of this will involve working to improve funding, security and sustainability for all our campuses. It will also involve increasing representation within our curricula, practices and staff so everyone feels represented and welcome within Barts and The London.

In light of Coronavirus, I will also work with the university to ensure that no student is disadvantaged by the pandemic. In these times, the BLSA will also strive to maintain high quality student experience and a strong community spirit.

How does it feel that you were elected by students to represent the voice(s) of students? Being elected the new BLSA President has been extremely humbling and I can’t thank everyone enough who supported and voted for me. It really means a lot to see so many other people agree with my manifesto points and also want to see BL community grow!

One of the best things about BLSA and Queen Mary is the diversity of the student community. As a representative, I want to engage with students from all parts of our community to make sure I truly represent their voices. I know I can’t do this alone, so I’m working closely with the other Executive Officers and all the amazing BLSA Board members.

I am trying to establish multiple communication avenues that students can use to get in contact with myself and the BLSA. We’re also working with the university to improve reporting networks so all feedback is centralised and listened to.

My top priority is to listen to students and create a BLSA that works for everyone! Therefore, if you have any concerns, comments or suggestions please feel free to email me at president@bartslondon.com 

Is there any advice you would give to current students or recent graduates considering their career options? My advice to current students would be to get involved. Take advantage of all the opportunities that are available to you – academically and socially. The academic societies are a great way to learn about different career paths, meet interesting speakers and build your network.

As someone who is still a student, it is difficult to give advice to recent graduates, but I want to take this opportunity to encourage you to stay in touch. You may have graduated, but you’re still part of our community! Use the Alumni Engagement Team, the Queen Mary Network and BATLAA to learn about the different career paths other people have taken – maybe you’ll come across your dream job.

What has been so special about your time at Barts and The London to date? Seeing all the incredible things students are achieving! Some specific highlights include the first BL Drag Show, the RAG Halloween event and BL ISoc’s fundraising efforts for Charity Week! All of these things show that we have a great community and people really care – not only about our BLSA community, but also the wider community.

As one of the lucky people who’ve performed on the Laird Hall stage multiple times, I can also safely say that I have never experienced anything like it before and the memories I have made on that stage and in rehearsals are ones I will cherish forever!

Were you involved in any extracurricular activities during your studies, e.g. sports, societies, any Ambassador roles? I’ve been involved in BLSA from the beginning but as well as this I have been involved in multiple student groups. Being a musical theatre enthusiast (“Rent” anyone?), I have been a member of the drama society both as a member and on the committee.

I have also been involved in the Barts and The London Prehospital and Emergency Medicine Society and helped develop a new SSC programme for the medical course focused on delivering trauma medicine teaching and experience to students.

I also cox in the Barts and The London Boat Club, which is something I love to do. There is nothing more relaxing than sitting in a boat on the calm Thames water on an early Sunday morning!

Do you have a favourite spot on campus? I love to hang out in the Griff Inn and do some work there. It’s a fantastic, chill student space where you’re bound to bump into a familiar face. In the evenings it also transforms into more of a club venue where you can have some really fun times with your friends, societies and sports clubs!