Ahead of nominations for our Elections opening, Gwern talks about his experience of becoming an FTO and his best memories whilst in post.
My experience as Full-Time Officer - Gwern Dafis
“I’m not even sure where to begin, so I guess I’ll start at the beginning...
I first ran to be a Full-Time Officer back in 2021. My passion for the Welsh Language was a large part of my decision to run in the Student Elections for the role of Welsh Affairs Officer, a role I believed was made for me! The Election process was a whirlwind of emotion...I remember feeling, excited, nervous, happy, anxious, all the emotions. The elections required a lot of effort, and THANKFULLY it all worked in my favour as I secured the position of Welsh Affairs Officer (although it was a close draw, as I won by just a small margin). After the result was in, I remember being so excited to represent the student body, and of course our Welsh students here at Swansea University.
I can remember my first day like it was last week – I wasn’t really sure what to expect, what I needed to bring, or how to dress, but I learnt veeeery quickly that turning up in a suit and tie probably was a bit too formal for the job (I did indeed get ridiculed for this Haha). At least I didn’t have to worry about ironing in the morning, I guess!
Starting my role during the summer period was the perfect opportunity to go through my manifesto and give myself targets to complete each point throughout the year ahead. This was very exciting, as I could finally visualise my elections manifesto points coming to fruition. However, I did learn quite early on that not all points were achievable in their original format. BUT, I learnt ways to adapt and adjust them to achieve the best possible outcome. Managing expectations was a huuuge part of my learning process, and it’s 100% a skill I could see myself transferring to other roles in the future.
Although, I would say it’s important to note that not all your work as an Officer comes from your manifesto points...You’ll uncover tasks that you want to take on throughout the year that wereen’t necessarily apparent in the beginning of your term! These tasks can arise from anywhere, like normal working day conversations, to nationwide events, or even queries from students.
During my first year in office, I had the opportunity to plan and run plenty of Welsh cultural events and awareness campaigns. After plenty of planning meetings and collaborative efforts from various teams at the SU and University, it was so lovely to see my events come to life for the students to enjoy. The longer I was in the role, the more I understood how to run my own campaigns, and how to make them engaging for students! One of my favourite events I had planned was the trip to Pen Y Fan for St Davids Day – It was also a personal goal that I wanted to tick off my bucket list so what better way to achieve it than leading 50 students to the peak.
Of course, one year just wasn’t enough for me – After my term as Welsh Affairs came to an end, I started to really enjoy the prospect of running for a different role. As an Officer Team we all work very closely together on certain campaigns, and I often really enjoyed working on projects that involved our Societies & Services. I thought since I enjoyed that side of the Union so much, I should run to be the next Societies & Services Officer – Lucky for me, I was successful!
I've done a lot of things I’m proud of this year, but my favourite achievement was implementing an “Adopt a Society System”, which allows students the opportunity to revive dormant societies. A lot of my time in this role is dedicated to supporting our student societies, helping them with general queries and ensuring members get the best possible experience whilst in Uni. I LOVE this part of the role and is one of the main reasons why I decided to run for this position to begin with. Although, I have to say, that helping our President Esyllt negotiate the re-opening of our student nightclub Rebound is up there in the top three favourite Officer wins (see you on the dancefloor Swansea).
As much as I have been involved in tasks within my remit, I have also had opportunities to get involved with passion projects and once in a lifetime events. Throughout being an Officer, I was able to co-lead on the Movember campaign (something I was very passionate about), announce on the BUCS Super Rugby in St Helens (which I’ve loved every second of), Completed an online diploma in digital marketing with Gower College Swansea, received bar & hospitality training, Achieved a Mental Health Awareness certificate, and so much more! The opportunities really are endless at the SU.
To sum up my experience, becoming a Full-Time Officer was one of the best decisions I ever made. The past 2 years have been a whirlwind, and I truly couldn’t thank the Students Union’ enough for everything! From winning 3 awards at NUS Wales, to co-hosting boxing events with Jonny this year, and being part of the process behind our large-scale events like Varsity and Summer Ball, the memories I have made will stay with me for a very long time!
If I had to choose one core memory from the past two years that sticks out to me like no other, it would definitely be the night I was re-elected as Swansea University’s Societies & Services Officer. Nothing will beat seeing my name on the on the big screen, and knowing I get to do this amazing job for another year.
It’ll be a sad goodbye for me in June, and I’m sure a very hard one to do, but I’m positive my successor will do a cracking job! Who knows, it could even be you reading this article now...Nominations close on the 17th Feb at 3pm, so get ahead of the game and nominate yourself now!"