Awards for SLS undergrad student representatives in a challenging year

Published on 15 June 2021

This year, the School of Life Sciences student representatives have worked hard to increase engagement, boost employability prospects and raise awareness of student wellbeing.

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The School President (Lauren Wilson), Learning and Teaching Vice Presidents (Finley Reilly, Natasha Tsuro and Rabinoor Khurana) and Employability Vice Presidents (Jennifer Kerr and Kerry Hailstones) were the core team leading this change. The Vice President of Employability dual role is new in the 2020/21 academic year and was created to boost awareness of the diverse range of careers a Life Sciences degree can lead to and to enhance employability prospects for our students. 

One of the first aims was to revamp and better utilise the student-led social media accounts. Effective advertising has led to over a 250% increase in following since the role commenced in the summer of 2020. Posts on the Instagram (@dundeeunisls) and Facebook (Dundee University School of Life Sciences) accounts have focused on introducing representatives in addition to sharing careers and academic content.

Moreover, it was addressed that student welfare was of priority during this isolating time. In order to understand the support that undergraduate students needed, wellbeing focus sessions were hosted by the School President. Following this, a series of ‘Welfare Wednesday’ social media posts were created which covered topics such as studying from home, avoiding burnout and adapting as an international student. 

Throughout the year we built strong relations with SLS employability staff, Career Service representatives and the SHINE committee to advertise job opportunities, summer internships and workshops via a dedicated BBSE employability email address and social media pages. We hosted two Life Sciences Careers Fairs: one focused on Graduate Jobs and the other on Further Study opportunities. Throughout the year we maintained contact with over 20 external speakers from a wide range of fields – this allowed our students to gain greater insight into the diverse range of careers a degree in Life Sciences provides. Many of these speakers were University of Dundee alumni, therefore strengthening alumni relations within the school. The success and interest of the event was first highlighted when we received 4x the amount of applications for the careers fair committee than any previous year. We decided to take on all students, creating a completely novel structure with 2 separate committees. Overall, this provided committee members with an excellent insight into planning largescale virtual events and created an outstanding volunteering role that could be used on CV’s/interviews to help secure graduate positions. Both events were a massive success as they had a combined attendance of over 1000 students and consisted of 14 hours of livestreamed talks with Q&A sessions from our excellent speakers.  

The engagement, employability and student welfare promotion led to two awards for the School of Life Sciences in the 2021 DUSA Annual Awards:

• School President of the Year – Lauren Wilson

• Representative of the Year – Jennifer Kerr and Kerry Hailstones (Employability Vice Presidents). 

In response to their awards Jennifer Kerr said, “Undertaking the role of VP employability has been a great experience. I have gained lots of skills with social media, contacting employers and organising career events. I’m very grateful to have jointly received this award and represented the School of Life Sciences this year.” while Kerry Hailstones said, “I am extremely grateful to jointly receive this award for our work in enhancing employability opportunities for Life Sciences students. Seeing the consistent development of the student-led social medias and a continuation of the Employability VP role in the next academic session is a great end to a challenging year.”

Lauren Wilson said, “Being elected as School President has been a great honour and I have had the best experience representing students in the School of Life Sciences. I am so grateful for everyone that has supported my ideas and excited about playing a small part in improving student life. It is extremely humbling to be awarded ‘School President of the Year’ in an academic year which has seen amazing work University-wide.”

June 23 2021 update:

The School of Life Sciences Academic Events and Social Media team won the award for student-led initiative in a university at the sparqs Student Engagement Awards.


Press Office, University of Dundee