My day usually starts at 6.30 am. I wake up and scroll through Instagram for way too long before I realise I’m going to be late for work if I don’t get out of bed soon. I try to do some vinyasa yoga or go to the gym in the morning, but depending on my workload from the day before, it doesn't always work out. I do however always shower, brush my teeth, get dressed and pray. Then, I hop on my bike and cycle to the SU office located on the end of Mill Lane, on the top floor of the University Centre.
My work day begins at about 8am; checking and responding to emails, dms and slack messages I’d received overnight takes up about the first half an hour of my day, while I eat some crumpets I left in the office fridge for breakfast. Emails and this kind of admin work is definitely something I didn't expect to do as a sabb. But there are a lot of people wanting your attention- University Staff members, students, student and public press, internal SU staff and some external organisations (mostly wanting support or speakers at access and inclusion events).
Once that's done, I can finally settle into some deep focus time. I am definitely an early bird (or a lion if you're into chronotypes) and so try to get into creative writing tasks as soon as possible after I wake up, which is the main reason I choose to work 8-4, rather than later! While studying, I would often wake up at the crack of dawn to write my essays and be finished by lunchtime, but have had to adjust that schedule due to the demanding work hours of being a Sabb. In the past few weeks, this deep focus work has involved writing open letters and proposals for things like Year Abroad for All and Repatriation of Stolen Materials. If you want to know more about this, check out my Sabb updates on the Student Council agenda! Or, researching articles, reports and data on Black Caribbean student access and attainment; and practising decolonising the curriculum and pedagogy.
Just before lunch, in the late morning, I usually have a few internal meetings, such as Sabb Catch Up- where Sabbs, comms and other SU departments have a conversation about the key tasks Sabbs are working on that week, if we need opinions on anything to support on specific projects. Or, I’ll have a 1:1 with my line manager or a member of the Democracy team. This is to ensure that I am on the right track for my termly and longer term goals, seeing where I could use the support of another member of staff, or could consider a different approach to challenges and roadblocks in my work. I will usually need another email and admin time at midday, in case anyone has responded to the messages I sent in the morning, to set up meetings and answer more messages from students.
Then, when my stomach begins to grumble, I usually cycle back to college for lunch. I usually like to have hot lunches but rarely have enough energy to cook food in the middle of the day, so it's a good option. I then head back to my room or a study room at Jesus Library to work remotely for the rest of the afternoon. This is often meetings with University Staff members, such as sitting on a committee or connecting with important people in a department, school or faculty to work out the logistics of implementing certain goals or SU policy. For example, a couple weeks back, I had a conversation with members of the Centre for Teaching and Learning and the Black Advisory Hub about ways to support Black student attainment. We had discussed potential events, mentoring and student consultations to help target support for Black students. Or, last Friday, I had two afternoon meetings, one with the Presidents of student faith and religious societies to finalise the timetable for National Interfaith Week. Followed by an in-person catch up with the chair of the BME Campaign. These were both lovely opportunities to check in with student events and see how I can support them and make sure they run smoothly.
I generally try to end my work day at 4, where I will cycle straight to Wilberforce Road Athletics Track. I have been competing in University Athletics (Track and Field for the Americans) since first year. It was a huge part of my childhood and teenage years and I am so grateful for it to still be a huge part of my life as a university student. This year, I’m sprint squad captain, which means I must arrive early to welcome students and lead the warm up and drills- especially for those new to the sport to establish good habits. Training lasts for 90 minutes to 2 hours, and once it’s done I either wash up at the track and cycle back to the office or go home.
Every Monday, sabbs are expected to attend with the Student Council or Executive Council (on alternate Mondays). These usually run anywhere from 1 to 2 hours and are the main way for students to hold Sabbs accountable, ask questions and contribute to the bigger picture and direction of the SU. Sometimes, it's not student council or exec but a BME Campaign event or Trustee meeting that will keep me occupied in the evening. Considering I’m an early bird and am always more alert and aware in the morning, these can be quite challenging, but I do try my best to be present and open to helping students- it's all part of the job!
That leaves me about 8 or 9 pm, logging off for the day and heading home. I spend a few hours cooking dinner, calling my family, reading and practicing yin yoga before heading to bed around 11pm or midnight. Way later than I was used to when studying and it’s still taking a lot of adjusting! Any dolphins (again with the chronotypes!) who have suggestions on how to conserve energy for the day- please let me know! Once I’m in bed, I set my alarm for the next morning, pop on a “Nothing Much Happens” (bedtime stories for adults podcast) and doze off for what feels like a few seconds before starting the day all over again.