An image of Shirley Xu

Shirley Xu is a first-year Undergraduate student. Shirley is a year group representative for our first-year students - helping to be a liaison between staff and students to create a better student experience for our first-year students.

How have you found being a first-year rep this year?

Initially, I was excited to plan events to see people being brought together and having fun; of course, with everything being remote this year, it’s very different from what I had first imagined. Nevertheless, keeping people connected by implementing everyone’s ideas, ensuring people are aware of activities, and coming up with ideas of my own has still been rewarding and definitely worth the effort. 

Having to get to know one another virtually is quite a change for us all - we just have to dive in, do our best and have fun with it! It’s quite lovely just trying to keep up the supportive environment, helping each other to feel safe, included and comfortable reaching out. Spreading kindness and understanding is all we really need in life- let's all be each other's wellbeing reps! Overall, I’ve loved it so far. It was a shot in the dark that I’m very glad to have taken and I feel extremely lucky for the support and kindness of the cohort and to be of help to others!

What was your proudest achievement this year?  

I think my proudest achievement this year is still ongoing - I am learning to become more confident and as a result, I can help others a lot more. It is very easy to become bound by your own actions and how people will perceive you, but by gradually moving past that and taking a step back, you realise that most actions aren’t as important as you think and the satisfaction of not backing down and pushing yourself, however small, is much more worth it than letting a decision consume you and wondering “what if?”. Must say that I could not have been able to push myself as much as I have without the amazing friends that I have been so lucky to have made- find and surround yourself with people who support and strengthen you. 

What was your biggest challenge this year?  

This year, my biggest challenge has been accepting that you can’t do everything at once and that it’s okay to do nothing sometimes. Guilt and time spent feeling sorry for yourself after not being as ‘productive’ as you had planned is in itself unproductive, although it’s hard to realise that in the moment. I am happy to have started planning more and taking time each day to reflect on what I have achieved rather than what I didn’t manage to do or finish. 
What does Women at Imperial week mean to you?  

I am glad and appreciate the efforts taken to celebrate inspiring women and how far society has progressed. To me, it is a time and mark to reflect and appreciate what we have right now, and a reminder that things like equality and understanding have, can and will get better.  

Running to be a first-year representative was definitely a push out of my comfort zone. I’m extremely happy that I did end up going for it - was on the fence to begin with but now I couldn’t be more grateful for my role. It’s been a huge factor in my self-growth and has allowed me to help people and make a difference.