A member of De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU)’s Officer Team has scooped a national award for representing Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students at De Montfort University (DMU).
Augustus Mbanasor, DP Education at DSU, picked up the Black Representation Award at the National Union of Students (NUS)’ Black Students’ Campaign Summer Conference last week for his work on DSU’s BME in Leadership Conference and BME Inspired events earlier this year and contributions to the national campaign.
“I really appreciate this award a lot,” he said. “It’s quite surprising, because it’s one of those things that you don’t really recognise yourself, or don’t really know that people outside of the union are watching what you’re doing.
“I’ve been told a lot of people have a lot of time for my work, especially within the national campaign, so when my name was read out I was so shocked and I froze. I didn’t know what to do.”
The award recognises Augustus' work on DSU's BME in Leadership Conference, BME Inspired and the NUS' Black Students' Campaign.
One of the Officer Team’s main goals for this year was to examine the well-documented BME attainment gap, and open a conversation about issues affecting BME students both at DMU and on a national stage.
Augustus continued: “The way we talk about BME students can be very negative, like talking about the BME attainment gap or the ‘BME experience’, so that’s why I wanted us to twist that into BME Inspired to put a positive spin on that experience at DMU, because we do a lot here.”
Augustus was nominated by multiple people from across the Black Students’ Campaign for the award, and has been inundated with questions about DSU’s successful BME Inspired event, which saw award-winning rapper and poet Akala come to DMU in April this year.
“Loads of different people have been emailing me to ask about BME Inspired and asking about how we got Akala onto campus, not only because it was trending on Twitter that day but also because it was such a great event.
“At the end of the day, everyone in life has some form of calling and I am very strong on representing people. Because I’ve come from a so-called urban background, I’m an individual who wants to challenge and break the status quo in all forms of my work.
“I really like the idea of inspiring individuals to be the best that they can be – it’s heart-warming to hear that people are inspired by my work.”
Augustus was presented with his award by Aadam Muuse, NUS Black Students’ Officer (left).
And Augustus was full of praise for the students, staff and other people who have supported him through his year as DP Education and helped him pick up the accolade.
“I want to thank all of those who took the time to appreciate and support this agenda. It’s very difficult, especially with a topic that you don’t necessarily understand, or if you think it doesn’t directly impact you.
“I’d like to take a moment to thank all of those within the students’ union who took the work on as well as especially Ahtesham Mahmood, Vivian Nwagboso and Halima Jama.
“Thank you to [DMU Chief Operating Officer] Ben Browne, who has been something of a mentor to me this year and he has guided me through the work that I have been doing, so I’d like to say a massive thank you to him, too.”
Augustus said: “It’s heart-warming to hear that people are inspired by my work.”