Features

We asked Cardiff University students to tell us their biggest inspirations…

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest form of appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them” – John F. Kennedy

Iris Van Brunschot on… Greta Thunberg

I have various role models, but with only 200 words at disposal all words must be dedicated to climate activist Greta Thunberg. I look up to Greta Thunberg because this 16-year-old girl is one of very few people who does everything in her power to stop climate change and save our home. She is one of very few people who doesn’t contradict herself by flying to New York to give a speech on the UN Climate Action Summit but sails there completely carbon neutral. She demands our leaders to act now and shows them that it’s possible through giving up her own dreams to save the planet.

I hope to one day be as intelligent as her and realize that all else pales by the climate crisis. We cannot address hunger, address wars, address poverty without simultaneously addressing the climate crisis.

I hope to one day be as brave as her, and stand up to the people in power to say:

‘’How dare you… You have stolen my dreams, my childhood with your empty words.”

I hope to one day be as strong as her; to look beyond my own desires to help to stop the most important issue of our time.

Ella Clucas on… her Mother

Though it’s true that our lives are largely shaped by the people we surround ourselves with, there are always a few that stand out more as people we look up to: our role models. One that I’ve always had, who has helped me construct a sense of the person I want to be, is my mother. I think it’s true for many of us who are lucky to be close with family that they are the friends we didn’t get to choose. Whilst disagreements happen, of course, I must admit that she’s the one person I’ve admired through thick and thin.

My mother grew up during the Troubles in Northern Ireland; her father was a controversially liberal politician and so her family faced a lot of violent criticism every day. She has always been so brave, moving over to England alone to be with my father and following in her father’s footsteps to become a politician in her own right. Most of all though, she has always been fearlessly kind, stubborn in what she knows is right, and unashamedly herself. Those are the things I look up to, and that I hope I can continue.

Peter Wolinski on… his English Teacher

One of the most irritating things about being a teenager was adults regularly telling me that I had no idea what I was talking about. Contributing my opinions to a conversation with my teachers or my parents, even with my sister, was often met with the same kind of retort: “you’re just a kid, what would you know?”

Mr Williams, my GCSE English teacher, was different. He took over my GCSE class when our old teacher left, despite having another class to plan for, to teach and to mark. He didn’t want us to fail.

Always featuring a communal debate section, his classes were fun without losing sight of the seriousness required for us to pass our GCSEs. We gave our views on literature, school or life and he listened to us. He treated our opinions with a validity not afforded by other adults. Because of his classes and his treatment of us as young adults, I understand how important it is that we don’t give younger people an inferiority complex by dismissing what they say just because they are young. One day they will be older, and we will probably need them to say what they need to say.

Sai Woebking on… her Neighbour and Friend

I have a lot of people I love very much and look up to, but I do have one person I specifically consider my role model. She used to be my neighbour when I was a child, and her son used to babysit me and my little sister. But for the last 15 years, even after I moved away, we stayed in touch, see each other regularly and she has been nothing but supportive. Things were not always easy in my family, but whenever I needed to get out of the house, she would welcome me with open arms, and would even give me small jobs. These small jobs, often gardening, would give me a good reason to not be at home, would allow me to earn some pocket money but most of all were genuinely fun, and would keep my mind of things whilst also allowing me to spend time with her.

Even when things weren’t hard, I always looked forward to our meeting. She would take me to the theatre or various museums and teach me to appreciate those things. She also always had fascinating things to talk about. Honestly, I can’t think of a thing that woman doesn’t have anything interesting to say about. At every visit I learn something new! And I admire her so much! Academically she is what I strive to be, but more than that, she is just an amazing person. Clever, strong and so very kind. And I love her to bits for being a vital part of my life.

Abi Edwards on… Jesy Nelson

Jesy Nelson is known for being part of the girl group Little Mix, who came first on the X Factor back in 2011. However, more recently she has been in the public eye for her documentary Odd One Out, which aired on the BBC on 12th September, focusing on the trolling and cyberbullying she endured on the X Factor and the devastating impact that it had on her mental health. Jesy received widespread acclaim for sharing her story, as well as for talking to other victims of bullying on the show and for visiting the parents of a victim of bullying.

I think that many people will agree with me that she is an inspiration, not only to her fans but for anyone who has had mental health issues, has been bullied for who they are or who simply don’t feel good enough in today’s society. The documentary showed that no matter the amount of abuse Jesy received, she rose above it and dealt with it in a remarkable manner, and that bullies will never win. Lots of young people can look up to Jesy as their role model because she stresses the importance of never giving up.

Niya Dobreva on… her flatmate

Imagine a combination of David Bowie and The Smiths – that much of a picture he is. Sitting quietly in the room, observing you without intruding may seem strange to you in the beginning. The simple truth is that he loves listening to people – to their stories, emotions, language – allowing them to express themselves without any judgment.

Imagine someone who you can talk about any musician: living or dead. Imagine someone you can go to the Music social and on your turn just sit, observe and feel your soul coming in harmony with the world. You feel like someone tuned you to the rhythm of nature, opened the door to a space of god-like sounds and let you wander in the pure streams of muse. Imagine the one who is going to play early Kanye West for you and after that elaborate on Michel by Paul McCarthy and the love story behind it while singing along.

Imagine it all and you get the perfect mix of complete music nerdiness, profound taste and a true friend.                          

To you, I.S., for inspiring me to reach out for what is beneath this world. Around you I want to explore myself and dive into what I can give to you and the others. Around you I want to listen to you and not the opposite, because anyone who listens deserves to be listened to.

If you are a Cardiff University student and want to contribute to this series, contact Features via email at: [email protected]

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