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President's Welcome Speech 2019

President's Welcome Speech 2019

Joanna Siewierska, UCD Students' Union President 2019/2020

Dzie? dobry wszystkim.

Dia dhaoibh go leir.

Good morning everyone, and welcome to UCD!

My name is Joanna Siewierska, I’m really excited to meet you today as your Students’ Union President. Congratulations for making it to UCD and also welcome to the SU, of which you are all now member. I hope you're having a good time so far and are buzzing to get started next week.

I grew up on the northside of Dublin myself and I come from Poland originally. I’m living in Ireland about 15 years and I just finished a degree in Law and Social Justice here in UCD.  

It's a bit mad standing in front of you today, because it's not long ago at all that I was in your place, a very nervous first year about to start studying in UCD. There is a lot of information coming your way, and I know it can get overwhelming, but if there’s one thing you should take away it’s that the hard part is over - you’ve made it here, and you’re about to embark on an amazing experience, so take it one day at a time and grab every opportunity open to you!

Back in first year, I was living at home on the northside of the city and not a lot of girls from my school came to UCD, but little by little I found my feet. There are plenty of places where you can make friends in UCD, from sports clubs, societies, tutorials in small groups with classmates, having a chat at one of the cafes or the lake. For me, I met my best friend when one of my classmates agreed to keep me company while I went to get Word downloaded to my laptop in the IT Center - so you never know when you might meet someone who will make your time in UCD special. 

I’d say the best advice I’ve been given in those first few days was to stay calm, get chatting with people in your classes and go along to society events and sports team tasters. There are so many different ways to get involved with the UCD community, and I really hope each of you will take advantage of even just one or two of the events and opportunities on offer. And if you’re feeling a little low and need a mood boost - the warm chocolate brownies and ice cream served in poolside cafe in the sports center can make the worst of days a little better. Works every time!

Whether you came from up the road, down the country, or a different continent, you're all part of the UCD community now. We're a campus of 30 thousand students, a third of them international, another third access students. There is a lot of diversity in UCD, and it's a place where we want everyone to feel safe and included. 

And, each of you are now a member of UCD Students’ Union, but what does that actually mean? Well, we’re a team of 6 sabbatical officers, 17 part time officers and around 200 class reps who will be elected in the first few weeks of term. We support students through case work, so if you’re ever struggling academically, or facing any kind of pressure or worries in college, we can step in and help you. We also represent the Student Voice in committees and groups on campus, and we’re an activist team standing up for students and lobbying for your rights in UCD and on the national level. 

The Union’s office is located in the Old Student Center, behind the Science building just out there, and you are always welcome to come down to our reception with any queries to do with UCD, and to join our events, volunteer opportunities and campaigns! 

You can come and meet us at our Fresh Fest, we’ll be out there between 12 and 4 until Thursday, and we have a Fresh Sesh on Wednesday night. You can get information about our events and our work at the Festival, and buy tickets to the Sesh! Tickets are available at the SU Shops too, where you’ll also find the cheapest coffee on campus so definitely pop your head into one of them over this week. 

And if there are any veteran or budding activists among you, or those who are determined to organise the best nights out and the softest hoodies for their mates - nominations to run for class rep will be open with the new term, so definitely sign up!! All you have to do is get a nomination form and 5 of your classmates to sign it for you. It’s a brilliant experience and cv and skills booster, as well as a fun way to meet students from different courses and years all over campus. 

So join in, be yourself and if you see someone left behind, get them involved as well. Let's look out for each other and together, we'll have a fantastic year. I'm really looking forward to it.

Once again, congrats on getting this far and now is your opportunity to get involved!! 

Seize it!

Thanks a million.