Outstanding Buddy Sadaf Shameem receives her award from Professor Richard Coll.
Being a volunteer at university can assist in one’s career in some way or the other, said Professor Richard Coll, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Learning Teaching and Student Services (LTSS) at The University of the South Pacific (USP).
He made the comment during the Campus Life (CL) First Year Experience (FYE) Buddy Awards at the Laucala Campus on 17 August 2016.
At USP, Campus Life is committed to providing an inclusive and supportive environment for students, to develop a sense of community and engagement, and enable students to maximise their academic potential. The CL FYE Buddy Programme is an important strategy in achieving these goals.
Professor Coll said the first-year experience is one of the most important experiences in a student’s university life and it is always the first impression that lasts.
He recalled his time as a first-year student at university many years back saying ‘if you do not have anyone holding your hand, then you are on your own’.
Professor Coll said it is common in universities abroad particularly in Australia and New Zealand to have buddy systems, ‘not necessarily providing learning support but just that notion of a buddy’ which assists first-year student experiences in many ways.
“A good buddy is one that is proactive and I want to thank you very much for your contribution. It is someone who shares their time with someone who needs help and that is just fantastic,” Professor Coll said.
Mr Glenn Pope, USP Campus Life Group Manager reiterated that volunteering at university could shape one’s career and he is testament to that.
"I started my University career by being a first-year buddy and I managed to take it forward and now I am the Group Manager for Campus Life here at USP. It actually is a career because people do recognise that you have volunteered and done something special apart from just coming to study,” he advised.
Mr Pope thanked the volunteers for their effort and hard work saying the programme had been a success because of them.
Sharing on its history, Mr Pope said the programme was based on a successful model he set up back in Australia in 1998 at the Central Queensland University before he took it over to Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand.
“I am actually a first year experience buddy so I understand the highs and the lows of being a buddy. Sometimes you feel rewarded and sometimes you do not,” he said.
Mr Pope also paid tribute to Vodafone Fiji Limited which he said had volunteered almost $10,000 worth of recharge cards and a whole range of other things.
The outstanding Buddy of the Year award was scooped by Sadaf Shameem, a fourth year law student, who said she felt honored and extremely overjoyed with her award.
“This FYE Buddy programme is such a beautiful experience and to be part of a dynamic team such as this was the perfect platform to come on board and help others,” she said.
“Under the leadership of our Program Coordinator, Mr Ronil Prasad, not only did we contribute towards the programme, but it was a learning process for us buddies as well,” she mentioned.
Ms Shameem also encouraged other students to “come on board as buddies and help be that link that first year students need in making their transition to USP a smooth one.”
The CL FYE Buddy Programme plays a highly-valued and valuable role in the life of USP students and makes an important contribution to the well-being of new USP students by familiarising them with campus facilities, among other things.
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