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Meet Some of our Student Volunteers!

Giving thanks to some of our student volunteers and the wonderful work they do, for National Volunteers' Week 2022.

14 June 2022

National Volunteers' Week 2022

Last week was National Volunteers' Week 2022 and we spent it saying thank you to our fantastic student volunteers for all the work they put in for our school community. The hours they put in outside of their studies really helps others and we're grateful to have so many students in the school who are dedicated to making a difference. Jessica Dang, William Ashton, Kiran Jones, Esme Court-Johnston and Sunny Sudera are five such students, who have gone above and beyond this year and committed to their volunteering work - read more about each of them below!

William Ashton and Jessica Dang, DentEd Society

DentEd is run by 14 hardworking members who each share a passion for helping fellow students of the Dental School with any academic concerns they have. Jess Dang and Will Ashton are the co-presidents and their role is to help organise any events and liaise with various academic or clinical leads. The society has organised many events including exam help for lower years, as well as a ‘Finals’ revision session for the fifth years hosted by a foundation dentist who had recently graduated. They have also facilitated external talks from the likes of Colgate, and Oral-B who kindly gave out top of the range electric toothbrushes to those who attended.

They chose to volunteer with DentEd because the society had been such a great help to them when they were in the lower years and so they felt a good way to give back would be to pass on the help they once got to a new intake of students!

"We’re especially proud of an external talk we hosted with the help of our external-liaison member that involved two dentists. The topic of the talk was life after dental school and moving from foundation dentistry to the possibility of owning a practice. It had a great turn out and really removed some of the anxiety associated with leaving the dental school to work in an actual practice."

Esme Court-Johnston, Women's Basketball President

Esme is President of the Women's Basketball Teams (#LetsGoKnights), Player Coach and Captain to the second team, and this year has also played a major role in running the Men's Basketball affairs. Due to the pandemic there has been a less support than sports teams are used to, mainly because of the lack of a committee - in this instance only 3 out of 8 positions were filled - so the people who are involved have had to take on a lot of additional responisbility and fill many pairs of shoes in order to get the club running again. Esme has been a massive part of that for her team.


This year Esme has had an essential role in; assisting with grant applications for kit and equipment, organising finances so the next committe would have some money to work with, acting as welfare support for both women's teams, creating a structured form of feedback which was reviewed with Performance Sport so that the club can be even more successful next season, helping to set up wheelchair basketball, increasing inclusivity by strengthening ties with intramural and the men's side and finally, providing a support network with the Head of Basketball Performance for any players who were spiked.

“My personal highlight has to be seeing new and returning players (women) get involved in and enjoy sport. To see everyone so happy makes me smile knowing that I’ve really contributed to making this happen.”

Kiran Jones, School Representative

Kiran volunteers as a part of a wider body of students who represent the academic views and voices of students within the Dental School. He oversees the SSC (student-staff committee) from a student’s perspective and regularly chairs, attends and participates in meetings and discussions with key members of staff and other members of the Faculty to improve the academic experience for our Dental and Dental Therapy students.

Within his role he acts as the main conduit between the students and staff within the Dental School, ensuring that student voice has an open and honest platform where views and opinions can be voiced in a non-judgemental manner and acted upon to best improve the student experience.

At the beginning of the year, a key decision he was involved in making was increasing the amount of present-in-person teaching for Phase I. This feedback was collected during the first six weeks of the year and motivated him to organise meetings with key members of staff in order to openly discuss and address the feedback, the outcomes of which were implemented for the remainder of the year. The feedback collected has since been evaluated and used to greatly influence next year’s timetabling, something whichhe is very proud of as it demonstrates first-hand how effective student representation can be in shaping the university experience.

Another thing he has thoroughly enjoyed being involved with is acting directly on feedback shared with him by our Dental Therapy colleagues, particularly regarding improving levels of empowerment and the sense of identity of these students within their university experience. Following these initial conversations, he helped to mediate and facilitate key discussions between our Therapy colleagues and staff members, where strategies were created to address these points which was most helpful and effective in meeting the wishes our Therapy colleagues.

"I chose to take on this role because I love being involved with student representation. I find it extremely motivating, interesting and rewarding especially when actions are taken directly as a result of feedback raised from the student body. I have been lucky enough to engage with a great diversity of students and staff both from the Dental School, the Faculty but also the rest of the university which has made things even more enjoyable. I thoroughly enjoy championing, supporting and facilitating student voice especially on behalf of students who may not have the confidence to share their feedback and/or approach staff with it."

Sunny Sudera, BrushUp President

BrushUp is a volunteering project in which students provide oral health education to our community. They typically do this by visiting schools and other institutions providing fun and interactive sessions in which they educate participants about oral health, tooth brushing, diet and what it's like visiting the dentist.

Sunny has personally been a committee member for the past three years, taking on a multitude of responsibilities, including organizing and running sessions, admin roles, social media, training and much more. Recently, he's gained the title of 'President' which means he does much of what is listed above, but with the help of his committee.


He chose to volunteer with BrushUp because it's such a great and fun project. Participants get so much out of the sessions and enjoys seeing how the work they do can have a positive impact on the community. BrushUp activities are also helpful for the volunteers, giving them greater experience interacting with patients, delivering oral hygiene instructions, diet advice and developing skills such as behaviour management, teamworking and leadership.

"My personal highlights are: being awarded the Jimmy Steele Prize, and chosen for the NUSU Student Leadership Award for my work with BrushUp."

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