Leading 2000 volunteers.
Alex Cheesebrough
Get to know Alex Cheesebrough,
Civil Engineering

What are you studying and why?

I’m in my fourth year of Civil Engineering. I wanted to find a career that combines technical knowledge with helping people. I’d like to do humanitarian work in the engineering sector. Ultimately I’d like to get into water engineering in developing countries.

Tell us about the Student Volunteer Army.

Our mission is to ‘make service part of the student lifestyle by inspiring and activating students to be the change in their community’. Basically, we make it easy for students to volunteer in a way that suits them. We organise a different project every weekend. The SVA is now the biggest club at UC. We have over 2000 members!

And you’re president this year?

Yes! It’s a role I really enjoy. It’s my job to make sure that our projects go to plan and stay in line with our mission. I love meeting people and being part of a team.

What have you learned?

Organisational skills, communication skills, how to negotiate. My experience with the SVA has helped me grow in so many ways. I think I’ve learned as much from being in the SVA as I have from my doing my degree in some ways!

"But the real highlight is the emotional reward you get when someone appreciates what you’ve done for them."

Why is community experience so important for students?

Simply, you get more out than you put in. There’s the social aspect – it's a great way to meet new people. But the real highlight is the emotional reward you get when someone appreciates what you’ve done for them.

What’s your favourite aspect of the UC experience?

The clubs. We have over 137 of them. They’re what makes UC. They’re inclusive and collaborative, and there’s something for everyone. There’s the Potluck Dinner Club, the Medieval and Renaissance Society, Yoga Club, and there’s ENSOC which throws huge parties. The clubs give UC a culture unlike any other. There’s a real sense of community and belonging here.

How is UC setting you up for the future?

I’m lucky to be studying in a world-renowned program. UC’s Civil Engineering Department is one of the best ranked worldwide for technical knowledge. Beyond that, I’ve had so many leadership opportunities through the clubs I’ve been involved in. That’s the thing that will set me apart when I go looking for a job.

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