Last Friday we had our annual Newman Students' Union Awards, sponsored by Smile Education! We had the privilege of celebrating the achievements of both staff and students in person, which is something that has been a long time coming! The evening was very well attended, and we thank all those who made it so special. You can find photos from the night on our Facebook page.
The winners can be found below:
Course Rep of the Year: Sukhman Dhot
Unsung Hero (Staff): Hayley Sproson
Unsung Hero (Student): Luke Reeves
Sports Person of the Year: Isaac Rowlands
Sports Team of the Year: Men's Football
Society Event of the Year: The Importance of Education in Islam – Newman Islamic Society
Society Committee Person of the Year: Molly Turton
Society of the Year: MaDSoc
Innovative Teaching: Norman La Porte
Department of the Year (Academic): History
Department of the Year (Professional): The Library
Staff member of the Year: Lisa Vickerage Goddard
Student of the Year: Alfie McMillan
Faculty of Education:
Faculty of Arts, Society, and Professional Studies:
You're Great Awards:
We ended the night by recognising one of our former StARs who we sadly lost last year. Connor O'Shea was the epitome of Newman Students' Union, and it only felt right that we dedicated the Outstanding Contribution to the Students’ Union to him.
We thank everyone for attending the evening, and we hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did!
So full transparency time, I offered to write a blog for LGBTQIA+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, plus) History month without really knowing what I wanted to write about. There are several topics I could write about including; what every acronym means, being queer in a Catholic University, the history of LGBTQIA+ rights. After a long reflection what I wanted to share I decided to talk about my story over the pandemic and how lockdown shifted my identity back and forth until I found who I really am. So, take a seat and let me take back to March 2020 before the world turned upside down.
Before going into the March 2020 Pandemic, I identified as Trans-female and used She/Her pronouns, I was highly active within university and different societies being in the committee for a few of them. I was active within my life and I enjoyed that, I didn’t know that my life would change so rapidly over the next months. I believed I was comfortable within my gender identity and that nothing would change at all. But as the weeks of lockdown turned to months, I started to struggle with who I was. At first, I thought this was because I was just used to being busy and now my world, my life had frozen in place and I actually had to slow down. Thoughts about my gender identity kept shifting and I felt confused and in despair as I realised I did not know who I was anymore. For a long period of time I struggled to get out of bed and I just laid there staring at my ceiling for hours at a time because I just couldn’t comprehend who I actually was and I was so confused and lost.
This brings us to December 2020, where I just broke down crying to those around me that I no longer knew who I was and that I am so lost and for the first time in a very long time I asked for help which was a pretty scary experience as I am proud to be independent and not seek help. But after I broke down, I decided that maybe I am not Trans-female and decided to give living a Cisgender male a try. (Cisgender means someone is happy with the gender they are assigned at birth). For a few months that seemed to work, then suddenly I started hating myself in a way that I haven’t in such a long time.
Around March 2021, I decided to come out as Non-Binary (meaning I don’t identify as male or female), I started to use the gender neutral pronouns They/them and spent the next several months trying to find comfort with who I am, I dyed my hair and tried different looks and styles until I found something comfortable. But that never came, I still felt lost and thought that maybe this is my life now; just to constantly feel out of place and like I will never fit in again.
It wasn’t until the end of May when I was sitting with a friend at university and he called my name and something just clicked… I didn’t like people calling me by my name. I told my friend this and he simply replied ‘change it then’, and it clicked. I had changed everything about me; my hair, my style, my pronouns, but I didn’t change my name. This is why I felt so lost and uncomfortable within myself. After a little time of thought I simply said aloud the name ‘Phoenix, I want to be called Phoenix’. From then on, I asked people to call me Phoenix and it started me to make me feel more comfortable. This is what I needed, I didn’t need to be male, I didn’t need to be female, I just needed to be me. Now you may be asking why the name Phoenix, well I’ll tell you. Phoenix the mythical legendary bird who burns when it dies and is then is reborn from the ashes. I feel like I can relate to a Phoenix as during the pandemic I burned out and lost my way but I came out of the ashes and became stronger and started to feel comfortable with myself.
So now you know my story. The story of how I lost myself and found myself during the worst years I have ever experienced. But, as I’m sitting here writing this I have found comfort and I can genuinely smile be proud of the person I have become. During this LGBTQIA+ history month I reflect on my own personal history as well as the history of the community. We as a community have come so far but we still have such a long way to go. I will continue to fight for equality and I hope it is something that happens soon. A message to all those who are out I am proud of you and you are amazing keep being the light you have always been. I also leave this blog with another message to those who are still unable to be themselves and feel lost and confused as I did. I understand, and I want to let you know that I am here for you and that no one is alone no matter the darkest of nights’ light will always come at the dawn. Finally, I leave you with my favourite quote. This is the quote that got me through my darkest days, and the quote that will be part of me for the rest of my life no matter what:
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”