Rep of the Month: Sophia Constantopoulos

Over 300 academic reps have been super busy this term representing your academic interests! From improving your online lecture experience and getting deadlines extended to increasing your access to different modules, reps have done tons of stuff this term already. This month, our Sabbatical Officer team found that one rep really stood out – your Biological Sciences department rep, Sophia Constantopoulos!

To mark International Pronouns Day, Sophia organised an initiative to encourage all students and staff within the School of Life Sciences and the Environment to celebrate the importance of personal pronouns. She shared resources with all members of her School, making sure that everyone knew of their importance to trans, non-binary and gender-nonconforming people. She also designed nine pronoun stickers, distributing them in the University buildings and online, as well as encouraging students to use them within their email signatures! This huge positive impact has led to her being chosen as November’s Rep of the Month.

We caught up with Sophia to find out more about her!

Hi Sophia! Why did you want to become a rep?

I was an academic rep last year for organismal biological science students. I knew after sitting in the SSC meetings that I wanted to continue on to become the department rep in the successive year.

I love my degree, and I love my department. I became an academic rep both to support my fellow students with mental health issues, marginalised students, and those voices often unheard, and to make changes for students who I was saddened to hear didn't love their degree. In my first year, it became apparent that there was a prominent divide between students who relished in their academic experiences and those who did not.

I hope, at least, that by presenting myself as an ear for student concerns, some of these frustrations amongst students may be eased - permitting a genuine appreciation of science to flourish.

What have you been up to this term?

For International Pronouns Day, 21 October, I organised an initiative to raise awareness about the day and the importance of respecting personal pronouns, and share pronoun stickers for students across the School of Life Sciences and the Environment. These stickers (designed by yours truly) were also made available as image files for students to print themselves or use in email signatures. The inclusion of pronouns in an email signature is a small and vastly important step we can all take to support transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

I received the following testimonial:

“I think the gesture is really sweet and comforting, and also an amazing step in the right direction! When I first came to uni, I was really quite worried, since as a trans person I felt completely on my own and was very scared. I know that support like this would have made me feel super at home and welcome, and I know it'll make other people feel the same way!”

- Second Year Biology student

How do you see being an academic rep impacting your future?

As the department rep, I have appreciated the challenge insofar as managing a team of reps across the Biological Sciences department - their enthusiasm and initiative have been frankly inspiring. I am confident that these experiences in leadership will serve me well in my future pursuits.

What’s the best thing about being a rep?

Easy: knowing that I am making positive and progressive changes, or at the very least, trying my best to make those changes. Honestly, the best part of being a rep is hearing back from students who I have been able to impact positively.

After organising the stickers and awareness campaign for International Pronouns Day, several students reached out in support of the effort, expressing appreciation. I am grateful for this beyond words.

If I can end this year knowing that I made just one student's experience at Royal Holloway even slightly more manageable, I will be content.

Thanks, Sophia!

Find your rep

If you’re an academic rep and want to have a shot at being Rep of the Month, don’t forget to keep telling us what you’re up to through Your Impact!