Jamie is currently a Sabbatical Officer at the University of Stirling Students’ Union – think Pupil Council, but with a salary and office! He recently graduated from studying Politics, and loves the real-world experience in helping and shaping the experience of students; representing student interests and helping awesome people do awesome things.
Jamie volunteers in the ‘Green & Blue Space’, an environmental projects hub that hosts various initiatives. The ‘Community Garden’ helps grow fruit that is then used in smoothies! The ‘Fair Share’ is a student-led charity shop element, re-purposing donated items to sell at discounted rates to incoming students. The ‘Food Hive’ has bulk-bought grains, spices and staples that allow students to eat healthy for less; whilst the ‘Food Huddles’ are community meals made with sustainable and healthy ingredients.
Which young Scot inspires you?
One of the most inspiring young people I know in Scotland today is my younger brother Josh. He is currently in 5th year in high school, with aims to go into Video Game Design at University. Creative, funny and caring, some say my brother is my opposite! But he holds down a part-time job amongst his studies, and practices his craft at night, designing basic games and drawing models that leave me in no doubt about his future success.
What is the best thing about growing up in Scotland?
Scotland is not inherently better than any other country. Nor do we strive to be – we strive to be seen, correctly, as equals. For me, Scotland has a rich history steeped in tradition, class and trade – and the fact we’ve emerged as a fairly egalitarian society with fairness at the root is quick impressive. People pay their fair share. Whether it’s a kitty in the pub, to helping your neighbour clean their path from snow, people in Scotland generally are not afraid to roll up their sleeves and get stuck in. If it’s not right, we’ll say it’s not right. I’m proud of our NHS, the friendliness of our communities and the self-depreciating humour that keeps us grounded as a nation.
What would you most like people from older generations to know about young people?
In some regard, the ladder has been pulled up for today’s young people. Travel bursaries? Nah. Free tuition? Only recently, and only for fees. Affordable housing? You’re having a laugh. In a lot of ways, I think there’s a resentment towards the Baby Boomers, by Generations X,Y,Z etc, that society was more open to socially mobility decades ago, and spiking house-prices and education costs have constrained the interests and pathways open to the young people of today. I’d like to caveat that view by speaking of my own experience with ‘Baby Boomers’ – they know how young people are hurting. They know how differently society is geared than it was back then – and they’re scared. Scared and worried about how they fit in to a society that values individualism over solidarity, smartphones and Snapchat rather than chats of the garden fence. It’s misleading to paint generations completely with the same brush, or to incite hatred/distrust amongst the old and young. Both have a lot to learn from the other I feel.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
During the summer, our student housing was oversubscribed, and as a result there were students left without arrangements, close to semester time. My inbox and phone were rattling with disgruntled parents and disheartened students. This was supposed to be their time, their chance to shine – and instead, it was turning out to be a scary disaster! Our Union whirred into action, and assisted the University in making sure our students were looked after. One particular example stands out to me, still. I was working late, when the reception phone started to ring. Usually I wouldn’t answer, but this time I did. It was a distraught mother of a daughter left in the lurch – coming across from Northern Ireland no less. They were scrambling to find housing, and were really worried about where this left everything financially. Over the course of 20 minutes, all the money-saving, penny-pinching tips I’d gathered in my undergrad came bubbling to the surface, and by the end of it, the mother and daughter were left confident that things were going to be alright. That chance to pass on the knowledge, to extend the ladder down? That made the press enquiries, stress and late-nights all worth it.
What would you most like to achieve in the future?
To quote one of our generation’s finest minds: ‘I’d like to die on Mars, just not on impact’. Bringing the conversation back down to Earth (literally), I’d love to devote my life to public service, through the Civil Service, politics or working in the third-sector. We’ve a lot of work to do improving society – and it’s those tireless souls that, bit-by-bit, improve the infrastructure that keeps the wheels turning.
What message would you like to give to other young people in Scotland?
It gets better, realise that you’ll likely to do many things over many years and not one job for life that everything comes to pass, and the future is what you make of it. One of the things we have most control over in our lives is attitude – it can be the difference between success and failure. Organise yourself, take control over what you can, and work towards a better you. Self-improvement is massively underrated, but small victories quickly snowball into large ones.
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