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Abdelrhman Rayis Concludes Presidency at KPA: Highlights from the 2022-2023

Speech by Abdelrhman Rayis at the KPA Celebration Evening and Bob Beattie Awards Event

Good evening, esteemed guests, and a hearty welcome to the Postgraduate Celebration Evening and the Bob Beattie Awards.

It is with immense pride that I, as the President of the Keele Postgraduate Association (KPA), get to celebrate with you today the considerable progress we have made together in the past year.

Tonight is not just an awards ceremony;

it's a gathering of our community, a time for us to reflect on our achievements,

and map out our journey into the future. It is also a moment to express gratitude for the unyielding commitment of our KPA staff, committee members, and volunteers who have continuously worked for the advancement of the KPA.

Among the many life-altering lessons I've learned this year in my role as KPA president is the value of kindness.

The thread of kindness has been a persistent underpinning throughout the process of leading a diverse committee, advocating for students' rights, emphasising personal development, and supporting mental health.

I've learned that being genuinely nice and sympathetic can bring people together, create a sense of community, and motivate them to take action.

Our advocacy will be more effective if we treat students with kindness and listen to their concerns with empathy,

And our efforts to help members grow as people will be more effective if we treat them with kindness and respect.

Kindness motivates us to foster a community where all members report feeling included and heard in efforts to improve mental health.

My term has been profoundly affected by this realisation of the significance of kindness in leadership, and it will continue to shape my future attempts.

Throughout this time, I have had the privilege of collaborating with a richly diverse committee of individuals, each bringing their unique cultural experiences and languages to the table.

This dynamic blend of perspectives has spurred us to innovate ways of supporting our postgraduate students. Through concerted student engagement, induction events, and other significant activities, we've heightened the KPA's profile and, by way of surveys, meetings and events deepened our understanding of our members' needs.

As we prioritized the enhancement of the postgraduate journey, championing for the rights and needs of postgraduates was front and center.

We've made significant strides in enriching the postgraduate experience at Keele University, with a clear objective to nurture an inclusive community that appreciates the voices and requirements of its members.

Our successful partnerships have enabled us to advocate strongly for the welfare and rights of postgraduate students, ensuring their concerns are acknowledged and addressed.

Taking into account the needs of our members, we've implemented customized initiatives and support mechanisms. We used insightful findings from our experience to tailor our activities, events, and services, thereby fostering an environment of engagement and a sense of belonging among our vibrant postgraduate community.

Mental health has been at the forefront of our priorities,

with new initiatives aimed at reducing feelings of isolation amongst our members, such as mindfulness sessions and wellness workshops.

We firmly believe in the intrinsic connection between mental and emotional health, and personal and academic success.

Later this evening, Jules, our Senior Bar and Entertainment Manager, will offer a closer look at these efforts, shedding light on the KPA's ongoing commitment to fostering community well-being. Stay tuned for that compelling presentation.

Moreover, the KPA Bursary has greatly aided our postgraduate students' growth. A heartfelt thanks to our Bursary Committee, and to Alison, for their steadfast commitment. More on this impactful initiative will be shared later by our VP Rachana, the incoming President.

I cannot help but acknowledge the extraordinary teamwork and cooperation of our committee members, staff, and volunteers. Their energy, creativity, and ceaseless efforts have been the driving force behind the KPA's success.

My deepest appreciation goes out to each one of them for their hard work and dedication.

Looking forward, we have grand plans for the KPA. Our unwavering commitment to represent our members' needs will continue.

We will further solidify our partnerships and continue to provide a broad spectrum of engaging initiatives.

As we move forward,

our vision for a more inclusive and supportive community for all postgraduate students at Keele University remains steadfast.

If someone had informed me that this PhD student from Sudan would have the opportunity to create a positive influence in such a wonderful community while experiencing personal growth and learning, I would have found it hard to believe. I am sincerely grateful for the chance that the KPA community has provided, as it exemplifies their commitment to offering life-changing opportunities for postgraduates, resulting in lifelong impacts and cherished memories.

Thank you all. Your trust and support have been paramount to our progress.

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