De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU)’s President will continue to represent students next year – even after completing his time in office.
Ahtesham Mahmood, who has held a position on DSU’s Officer Team for the last two years, was elected to the position of Postgraduate Students’ Representative on the National Union of Students (NUS)’ Black Students’ Committee for 2018/19 at the national Black Students’ Conference in Bradford earlier this month.
The term ‘black’ is used by NUS to refer to African, Arab, Asian and Caribbean students, as well as those who self-define as black.
He will share the role – which represents postgraduate students from across the UK – alongside Zahra Choudhry, Vice President of Education at the University of West London Students’ Union.
“This is a massive deal [for me],” Ahtesham said. “As a full-time officer at DMU, it has been great to be able to engage with initiatives like DMUfreedom.
“We have worked with the university in terms of co-creation and how we can make the campus feel not just more inclusive but in the delivery of the curriculum.
“However, something that we have noticed on our campus is that PG students are often forgotten about, and it’s a group of students that we need to work a lot harder to increase our engagement with.
“Coming from that background myself, this was an opportunity I saw that I could really take advantage of.”
And Ahtesham, who graduated from his Master’s in Pharmaceutical Quality by Design from DMU in 2016, is hoping to use the position to inspire Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) lecturers of the future.
He explained: “We know there are little roadblocks that come in the way in terms of seeing academics from a BAME background.
“But the best thing about coming to DMU was being able to talk to people from all different backgrounds, and knowing that you are representing such a massive group of students at Black Students’ Conference allows you to have those kind of difficult conversations.”
Ahtesham will take up the role alongside Zahra Choudhry (third from left) in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile Zahra, who also sits on the newly-created Office for Students’ postgraduate sub-group, is excited to start the role in a few weeks’ time.
“I cannot wait to work with Ahtesham,” she said. “The reason I chose to represent PG students was because as a BAME Muslim female I didn’t think I’d get to this position today because of all the supposed barriers I had in front of me, but here I am today.
“I want to motivate and persuade others to continue with their education.
“We will do this role justice by working together and collaborating our expertise.”
The pair hope to create an alumni network for black PG students, as well as examining value for money and networking events.
The news comes 12 months after Augustus Mbanasor, DP Education at DSU in 2016/17, was awarded the Black Representation Award at the same conference for his work on DSU’s BME in Leadership Conference and BME Inspired events, plus contributions to the national campaign.
You can read more about Augustus’ award here.
Elsewhere, Ahtesham was also elected to NUS’ Union Development Zone Committee in November 2017.
At the time, he said; “Holding the DMU ethos of being an active citizen close to my heart, I saw this as an opportunity for ensuring that the student experience is enhanced and extended across the seven million NUS membership.
“My new role also brings me closer to our partner FE colleges and that’s a relationship I plan to take from strength to strength.”
You can read more about Ahtesham’s other national role, plus Jessica Okwuonu – VP Welfare and Community at DSU – and her position on NUS’ National Executive Council, here.
Ahtesham was elected to NUS’ Union Development Zone Committee in November 2017.