One caring and dedicated volunteer has spoken about picking up a top award at De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU)’s recent volunteering awards.
Lucy Tuckley, a second-year De Montfort University (DMU) Accounting and Finance student, scooped the honour of MyUniPal Mentor of the Year at The SULETS DSU Volunteering Awards 2016 following her huge contribution to the initiative since she became involved in January last year.
As a mentor on DSU’s groundbreaking MyUniPal peer mentoring scheme, Lucy provided support for two first-year students by listening to their worries and concerns to help them through both their studies and get used to their new home at DMU.
Lucy admitted that, in the run-up to the awards, she hadn’t even thought of being nominated, let alone winning. “It was a complete surprise,” she said. “It wasn’t something that occurred to me.
“Keira [Rounsley, VP Welfare and Community at DSU] who presented the award said some really nice things.
“It was a really nice feeling knowing that I’d actually made some sort of difference.
“I was quite thankful as it was nice to be recognised and I felt quite appreciated for what I’d done.”
Mike Palmer, Peer Mentoring Coordinator at DSU, also commended Lucy on her work. He said: “Lucy has been an excellent mentor this year, starting halfway through the year and mentoring a student who had been waiting a while to be ‘matched’, which was never going to be easy.
“Lucy took to the task with ease and made sure she completed all the tasks needed of her.
“It was great to see the relationship Lucy had with her mentee flourish and hear of the support she provided to effectively help her mentee through difficult times.”
Lucy heads up to the stage to collect her award.
But what makes a good mentor? Lucy explained the key is listening, and trying to understand the students’ problems as best as she could.
She said: “It’s about being a friend, really. I think my listening ability [helped].
“It’s difficult to relate to every type of person and situation as I’ve not been in every type of situation so a lot of the time it was just listening, and trying to give my view point and use my experiences to talk to them, and just help them if they have any problems.
“I tried to give my advice as much as I could, but a lot of the time they just wanted to talk and an ear to listen.”
Another key aspect to the role, Lucy said, is taking the first steps to establish a relationship and showing that, as a mentor, you are approachable.
She added: “A lot of the time you’ve got to be proactive and make the first move. Go to your mentees and be as understanding as you can, don’t be too forceful, be really relaxed and make sure they know you’re there.”
Lucy plans to take a work placement next year before returning as a mentor in her third and final year of study, and said that the role has also given something back to her.
She explained: “I’ve learned a lot about other people and a lot about how other people experience uni because both of them have had differing experiences to me, so it’s just helped me understand that not everybody’s in the same position and you don’t necessarily know what people are going through.
“There’s a lot that comes from it, and it’s not much out of your time to give. You learn a lot about yourself, and help other people.”
You can find out more about the MyUniPal scheme and how you can get involved – either as a mentor or mentee – here.
Lucy was presented with her award by DSU's VP Welfare and Community Keira Rounsley.