For Volunteers’ Week 2023 we’re celebrating our amazing volunteers who have given their time, insights, and expertise to support our students and alumni community.
International student Savannah Coombe (MSc 2023) is Deputy Editor of Bristol-based non-profit communication agency Resource Media, which champions resource efficiency and sustainability, and she also holds the position of Chairperson of the Badock Hall Association.
Savannah shares with us her experiences as a student in Badock Hall, working on the UoB student newspaper Epigram, her career as a journalist, and what being a volunteer means to her.
What was your student experience like at Bristol?
I’m from South Africa and didn’t know anyone in the UK when I moved here. After a year in London, I moved to Bristol and into Badock Hall accommodation. It was an incredible environment where I was introduced to people my age who were also experiencing a new place. It was key in shaping my university experience as they are still my best friends today.
I’d wanted to be a journalist for a long time, so when I found out that Bristol had a newspaper and a magazine, I knew I had to join. I started writing for Epigram in my second year and by my fourth year, I became an editor for the food section and then a year as co-editor of the whole magazine. It’s been fundamental to my career – I now work for a magazine and publishing site called Resource, which focuses on green and climate journalism.
What inspired you to volunteer and stay connected to the University after graduation?
As a student at Badock Hall, I was vice-president of the Junior Common Room which meant we ran a lot of in-house events and activities. I enjoyed community building and helping people make connections. After I left, my old deputy warden contacted me to tell me there was a vacancy as Chair of the Badock Hall Committee and ask if I’d be interested in filling it, which I was! One focus of the committee is to bring in younger alumni, which starts with reaching out to students in their first year and to the halls to give an awareness of what the committee and alumni do. Once people graduate or leave their halls, they often don’t get back in touch until much later in life, so we try and close that gap as much as possible. We also run an annual bursary scheme for extracurricular activities, ranging from funding research trips to ballet lessons.
As a member of the Bristol Alumni Network, I also helped organise the Spring Showcase last year. It’s a weekend of events where the hall associations come together and host events in collaboration with each other, such as a mock University Challenge. We reach out to students and student societies with strong alumni committees and help people grow their alumni network. We help connect people, which I find to be one of the best parts of the weekend.
What do you hope to achieve through your volunteering roles at Bristol?
My favourite part of volunteering is seeing people make connections. It’s wonderful to see how much the student and alumni communities enjoy sharing their stories, especially at events like the Spring Showcase.
On a personal level, I hope to stay connected to the University and stay connected to Badock. On a wider level, I really want to help connect alumni with the University. I graduated this year, and although I feel very connected, I can’t imagine what it feels like 20 years down the line. If I can help facilitate bringing alumni back into the University fold, I’m really very happy with that.