Avril Agus, BA Sociology and International Relations graduate from the University of Leeds.

Avril Agus

What motivated you to apply for your course at Leeds?

Having done sociology and politics for A-level, I was really keen to continue learning in more depth about these areas. I chose to study international relations as opposed to straight politics because state relations and how the globalised world worked at the international level was something that really interested me. I have always had a passion for human rights and so doing this joint honours course allowed me to learn about the different angles and discourses that sociology and international relations have to offer to this matter.

I chose to study at Leeds as only a few universities offered sociology and international relations as a joint honours course and as soon as I arrived for the open day; I knew Leeds was where I wanted to go. The course breakdown and modules really appealed to me and campus is beautiful so it wasn’t a hard choice. I had a few friends who had great things to say about the student experience and night life which also helped me make my decision.

What do you think of your course?

I have absolutely loved my course from start to end! The teaching has been amazing and I have met great people along the way. The wide choices of modules has been great as it has allowed me pick and choose modules that I find interesting, such as the level three social movements module as well as the coercive diplomacy module. A major highlight of my course has been my year in industry which was a life-changing experience.

How would you describe the guidance you've received? 

The SSP and POLIS staff have been really helpful throughout my degree. The teaching has been of a high standard and I have always felt supported. Lecturers and seminar tutors are always happy to talk about any issues you have and their open doors have been really valuable, especially in final year. 

What do you think of the facilities?

We have great facilities! Being a campus uni, having everything in one place is really useful. With the Social Sciences Building as well as several libraries, I have really enjoyed being on campus throughout my degree. The Edge gym and Students' Union are also two facilities that I use a lot. Having these facilities in close proximities had definitely helped me get stuck into the student lifestyle.   

Tell us about your year in industry.

A big appeal to coming to the University of Leeds was that they offered a year in industry which I jumped at the opportunity to do. Having a passion for human rights, I was really keen to get stuck in the charity sector to get a taste of what working in that area would be like.  Finding the internships was a little hard and a lot of places were competitive but I was determined to make the most of my year out of studying. I ended up doing two internships over the course of the year.

The first was in central London working for a small, creative human rights organisation, committed to challenging injustice, building hope and creating positive change called Amos Trust. I did a wide range of things at Amos from admin and database entries to representing and going to events networking for them. I also helped come up with new fundraising and campaign ideas and assisted organising trips out to countries such as Palestine and Nicaragua. I worked with a great team who made me feel like part of the Amos Family. 

My second placement was with Amnesty International in New Zealand. Having found this internship scheme in second year, I really wanted to go abroad for my year in industry and so tried my hardest to get a place on this scheme. Luckily I did, and I had the most incredible time out in New Zealand. Based in the Auckland office, my role was as the Youth Intern. I did such a variety of jobs, such as coming up with new campaigns, lobbying ideas to teaching secondary students about Amnesty’s work and the importance of protecting human rights for all.

I also got stuck in with organising activism workshops which were lots of fun. Spending time outside of the office and talking to students was my favourite part and really motivated me to continue pursuing a career in human rights. I had an amazing manager and team around me who not only helped me settle into Amnesty but also into New Zealand and made my time out there memorable. I really enjoyed immersing myself in a new country with different cultures and traditions to that of the UK.  It was a really rewarding and fulfilling internship, and an opportunity I will never forget. The experience stuck with me so much that I am hoping to return to New Zealand once I graduate.

Overall, my year in industry has definitely been the highlight of my degree and something I could not have done without help from members of staff in SSP, POLIS and the Careers Centre. It allowed me to grow as a person and learn so many new skills, which I know will help me once I graduate. It also allowed me to try different jobs to see which areas within the human rights sector that I liked working in.

Have you been involved in extra-curricular activities?

I was heavily involved in the RAG society in my first and second year. I volunteered on the Uganda Project during my first year summer which was an incredible experience. Because I enjoyed it so much I then led the project the following summer and took out 40 Leeds University students to Uganda over 2 months. I also helped out with the Leeds RAG fashion show. During my final year I joined the Amnesty International society. From second to final year I was also working in the Students' Union.

Are there any other comments you'd like to make?

I would strongly recommend the University of Leeds to anyone who is looking at coming. It’s been an all-round incredible experience and one that I am sad is ending. I’ve met great people and have learnt so much. There are some bumpy bits along the way but overall spending 4 years as a University of Leeds student has been amazing!