Two students from the University of Edinburgh have been selected to the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) Student Ambassador Programme.
By Lorna Bruce
After a competitive national application process, the final 12 student ambassadors were selected by a panel of 20 judges. Ilona Susana Myllyniemi and Reese Chamberlain, who are both undergraduates at Edinburgh, have succeeded in being selected. They will take up their roles from January 2021 alongside counterparts from nine different countries.
The #WeAreInternational Student Ambassador Programme is UKCISA’s student network of global future leaders. This is an education policy and leadership development scheme for exceptional individuals from around the world who are currently studying in the UK.
UKCISA describes their ambassadors programme vision: ““Our vision for the programme is to empower international students to be key partners in shaping a quality student experience, using their knowledge and first-hand experience of studying in the UK to influence policy, lead the #WeAreInternational campaign and develop an inclusive global student community. Our student ambassadors will be equipped with policy knowledge and leadership skills to lead change, and forge an exciting network of global student leaders.”
Ambassadors will undertake various duties and activities across the year, which includes meeting with government representatives, to help deliver UKCISA’s vision for a world-class international student experience.
Ilona Susanna Myllyniemi
Ilona is from Finland, is a third-year student on MA Sociology and Politics, and hopes to make meaningful change in the university community through her participation in the ambassador programme.
“What appealed to me about the International Student Ambassador programme was the fact that it aims to amplify international student voices in policy-making and highlight the experiences and struggles of international students in the UK. I hope to be a voice for international students and remind decision-makers that international students are a fundamental part of our university communities, and our rights and needs should be acknowledged, especially in changing circumstances. I also aim to advocate for better mental health services and resources for university students, with a focus on the mental health challenges international students may face.”
Reese is from the USA, is currently studying International Relations, and has championed discussions on immigration policy and student mental health.
“Facilitating a rich feedback loop between UKCISA and Edinburgh Global is crucial in ensuring that international students here in Edinburgh are supported in every way possible. I look forward to collaborating with the Global team to better improve their support of both current international students and the University’s worldwide student outreach. Over the coming weeks, meetings between the Global team, Ilona, and myself will identify the strengths and weaknesses of the organization, and will inject much-needed student voices into conversations that directly impact them.”
UKCISA and Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh is a member of UKCISA, actively participate in their annual conferences, and our students and staff can access the wealth of resources through the membership.
Although students from Edinburgh have participated in the conference, there had not been representation in the ambassador programme. Thanks to the efforts of Inga Akermann, Global Community Coordinator, in promoting and highlight the opportunity to our students along with colleagues at the Students’ Association resulted with these two successful students on the programme able to contribute to the national efforts to continue to develop an inclusive, global student community.
Inga said, “Congratulations to Ilona and Reese! It is such an honour for Edinburgh that two of our students will be key partners in shaping the international student experience and influencing policy makers on national and international level with UKCISA. I hope their insights and feedback will also help us enrich the experience of our global community at the University of Edinburgh and empower more international students to share their stories of studying in the UK. I am looking forward to working more together.”
Find out more about the UKCISA Student Ambassador Programme