MSc Entrepreneurship student Sonal Gupta has won the Academic Representative of the Year award within the UCL Faculty of Engineering.
Student Academic Representatives (SAR) are elected by their peers to represent the cohort’s views to the University, giving students the opportunity to have their opinions heard, encouraging collaborative action between the university and students. Each year UCL awards those SARs who have gone above and beyond for their communities. Sonal is one of only 11 students across UCL to win this prestigious award for 2020/2021.
She ran for this position to not only connect with her peers and capitalise on her excellent leadership skills, but also because of the unique challenges of the past school year:
“I believe that to bring about active change, you must participate in it. I was aware that the year would be a little challenging due to the online/virtual model.”
MSc Entrepreneurship Programme Director Simon Hulme nominated Sonal for the award, and upon the announcement, he said:
“Sonal has been a remarkable SAR this year. It has been a particularly challenging year for our students and teaching team, but Sonal’s input, along with that of her colleagues Shemeen and Evans, has been instrumental in helping our teaching team fine-tune the programme delivery to match our students’ needs. We have all worked together in harmony and as a result, everyone has benefited. Sonal has shown exceptional commitment, and we are incredibly grateful for her help.”
Indeed, Sonal’s favourite aspect of working as a SAR was problem-solving and ensuring that all student issues are resolved in the fairest way. As someone not originally from London, Sonal found she was also able to connect with a large number of her peers during a very difficult time:
“COVID-19 brought about challenges of its own that negatively impacted student life and the university experience. Our cohort is filled with students from very diverse backgrounds and age groups… As the SAR, students felt comfortable speaking to me regarding personal issues, mental health issues, and/or programme-related problems.”
Student Experience and Wellbeing Officer, Declan Clear, added:
“It is a wonderful achievement for both Sonal and for the School of Management as a whole. We are all very proud of Sonal and appreciative of her work. We were very lucky during the circumstances of this year to have such a strong cohort of student representatives.”
Sonal says she is absolutely ecstatic to win the award, and feels very special and humbled by the honour.
“As a student of entrepreneurship, this award just reaffirmed my belief that I am on the right path. Persistence, hard work and passion always pay off!”
It is Sonal’s passion for entrepreneurship that drove her to the MSc programme in the first place. She says that she takes pride in being a female entrepreneur in the making, and feels she has met some of the most intelligent women in the world on this programme, compelling her to challenge herself every day and bring out the best version of herself, professionally and otherwise.
She thanks her module leaders and guest lecturers, who have been instrumental in motivating her to think bigger and do better, with special acknowledgement to her Programme Director, Simon Hulme, who helped her team to promptly action change when needed.
It has been a difficult year, but Sonal has a final message for her peers, encouraging them to remain positive:
“My takeaway from this year is that it is never too late for a challenge, persistence is key, and positive attitude is your best chance for survival and success! Stay focused and believe in yourself, always.