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Campaigning was a whole new world for Nazia

This time last year, Nazia didn’t expect that she’d be putting herself forward in the SU Leadership elections, let alone that she’d be elected VP Activities & Development! We caught up with her to get the low down on her campaign and find out what’s happened since… 

So Nazia, how did you find campaigning?

First of all - campaigning was completely out of my comfort zone! In my first and second year at City, I didn’t know much about the SU. Then when I got into my third year and found out about the elections, campaigning was a totally new world. I’d never done anything like it. It was definitely a step outside my comfort zone but I did learn a lot about myself and about the Uni too. You learn so much over campaigning and you realise how much you enjoy University. 

Was there anything that you learnt from campaigning which you didn’t put in your manifesto? 

After speaking to students you realise that there’s a lot of areas that the Students’ Union haven’t tapped into. So, I think it’s important to engage with students and speak to them. One thing I learnt during my campaign period was that a lot of students don’t as feel well represented or as well included with the SU. I think once I start my role, I want to make sure that the forefront of my campaign is representation, so that everyone feels included.

How did you feel about the debate? 

For the entire day, I felt sick to my stomach because I had never done public speaking before. In preparation for it, I was constantly just pacing up and down thinking “what am I going to say? How am I going to react? What if I crumble and turn into a big ball of nervousness?” Then when I actually got into it, it was easier than I expected. It’s difficult, because you’re put on the spot but once you get into it you just get into the swing of it. In the end it was something that I enjoyed. I think if it was something I was able to do again, I’d do it again. 

What did your friends say about you standing in the elections? 

My friends mainly encouraged me to go for the role but I think not many of them honestly believed that I could win. Someone said to me when they saw me at the debate, they’d only expected 20% from me but that I actually gave 100%! In a sense, I shocked a lot of people. I don’t think it was something that a lot of people expected me to do and I even shocked myself. It’s not something that I’d expect me to do ever! 

It’s not common to see a lot of young muslim women in positions of leadership and I’m muslim and I’m headscarf wearing. So, what kept me going was that I was breaking barriers and breaking stereotypes. Especially in the SU, I’m the first muslim, headscarf wearing woman to be a Sabbatical Officer. 

Have you got any funny stories from campaigning? 

Well nobody recognised my picture. I would go up to them and be like “have you voted?” and they’d be like “who am I voting for?” and I’d be like “me!” They’d be like “is that you? That just doesn’t look like you!” I had at least ten students say that to me. I was really surprised like “I don’t look that different, do I?” 

How did you find the reaction after you were elected? 

After the results party, my cheeks were hurting so much because I was smiling too much! In the moment I was very nervous because it didn’t sink in. When people were congratulating me I was thinking “is this really happening? Is this me?” When you hear your name you don’t really realise that over the weeks that you spent campaigning, all the effort and the hours that you spent have all been put down to this day. Then you hear that your efforts have paid off. It’s a really good feeling because you feel like you’ve accomplished something really really huge. So it’ll be a lifelong memory I guess. 

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself? 

I guess two interesting facts are that my name means Pride and when I was younger I lived in Tanzania for a year with my family! 

Anything you’d like to say to City students? 

I hope that a lot of students really do put their faith in me and that I fulfill my role to the best of my abilities. It’s an all girl team this year! I’m looking forward to working with Tuna and Kristina and I’m sure it’s going to be an interesting and exciting year for all of us. 

Great to hear from you Nazia! You’ll be hearing more from Nazia Bharde when she takes Office from July 2018. She’ll represent you as Vice President Activities & Development for the next academic year!