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“Make the most out of your university experience. There are so many opportunities available for students, you just have to be willing to say ‘yes’ and give things a go. Do not be afraid to stray away from the norm. You do not need your friend’s approval to join a society, start a campaign, or run to be a student representative.”

A Clinical Success: Zainab Garba Sani

Clinical Sciences graduate Zainab Garba-Sani has done all of the above, so she knows what she is talking about! A student representative in second year and faculty representative in third year, she also took part in the study abroad programme, where she visited Egypt. Zainab was then elected to serve as a Sabbatical Officer for 2017/18 in the role of Academic Affairs Officer.

As she prepares for her new role, within the NHS, we got the lowdown from her on her time in Bradford.

Zainab Garba-Sani

Zainab delivering a speech as a University of Bradford Student Representative

“I have learnt so much from the countless different people I have interacted with and from the amazing opportunities I have had the pleasure of partaking in.”

Zainab, why did you decide to study Clinical Sciences and why did you choose Bradford?

At the age of eighteen, it is easy to feel like you need to have your life plans sorted, but I was considering several options and so the confusion was coupled with uncertainty for the future. I applied to the University of Bradford because of how perfect the Clinical Sciences course was for me at the time.

Tell us about your time at Bradford, about the course, what did you enjoy and did it challenge you in any way?

Clinical Sciences showed me that we are not limited to those half a dozen vocational courses that we sometimes think we are as school children. I was always the exception to the norm; choosing the modules that most people would not, but I loved it. It was opportunities like this that I have Clinical Sciences to thank for. Opportunities that did not only benefit my grades but also set the foundations for my future aspirations.

I did what was best for me and found that my friends were willing to support me on my journey. I gradually got more and more engaged with extra-curricular activities and challenged myself more every year. The amount of personal and professional development you undertake at Bradford is truly remarkable.

What were your first impressions of the University?

I was instantly impressed by the University campus. It did not take me long to realise how many incredible, modern and exciting facilities there were at the University and that there were so many opportunities for me to get involved in.

Looking back what have been your most memorable moments at University and what impact do you think your time at Bradford has had on you?

My time at Bradford has literally shaped me into the person I am today. It has taught me invaluable lessons – some learnt the hard way – but these have made me stronger and more self-confident. Bradford has opened my eyes to the world and the diversity of people. My most memorable moments at the University all have one thing in common: the people! The staff are so supportive, always willing to go the extra mile to help and the students become an extension of your family.

Tell us about how you got involved with the Students’ Union and what led you to stand for the position of Academic Affairs Officer?

I got involved in the Students’ Union in my first year and in second year my journey as a student leader began when I became a Student Representative before progressing through the representation system to become a Faculty Representative, sharing student views on senior University committees as a result.

My wealth of experience and desire to give back and help others succeed made it a natural progression to the role of Academic Affairs Officer. But, in all honesty, it was other people who believed in me who encouraged me to run for the position. They were the ones who were convinced I could make a real positive difference based on my past work with the Union and the University and urged me to take up the opportunity.

What does the Academic Officer do and how have you found it?

There have been huge challenges and various lows against the many highs, but I have absolutely loved this role. Every single experience has been vital in making my journey so insightful, enriching, growth-developing and rewarding. How many 22-year-olds can say they were privileged enough to join other colleagues on the V-C’s delegation to Africa and meet government officials, alumni and prospective students in two extraordinary countries?

As a trustee of both the Union and the University, I protect the institution for students and I am involved in the strategic developments of the two organisations. It is my responsibility to uphold students’ interests in all academic matters and University policies.

I have learnt so much from the countless different people I have interacted with and from the amazing opportunities I have had the pleasure of partaking in. The role has also given me the opportunity to develop some incredible skills such as: public speaking; networking; conflict resolution; negotiation; resilience and communication on various levels; to name a few.


Zainab Garba Sani 2

Zainab poses with an award she received at the 2016-17 UBU Student Leadership Awards

Congratulations on securing your new role – tell us what you will be doing and where you will be based.

From September I shall be joining the NHS Graduate Management Scheme and I am incredibly excited to embark on this new chapter. I shall be based in London, which is also incredibly exciting for me as I am looking forward to exploring our vibrant and bustling capital.

Is this your dream job and what helped you get it?

This is a dream come true. At the time I applied to Clinical Sciences, I hoped it would be a door to exploring opportunities and it definitely has been.

My year as Academic Affairs Officer most definitely helped me get onto the scheme. I have worked in leadership and management in a higher education setting and this has truly helped me confirm and cement my passion to pursue a career in not only healthcare leadership and management, but policy and strategy, to be more specific.

When I first started following the scheme, back in 2014, there were only four available strands and General Management was the specialism that suited me best. However, as soon as the Policy and Strategy specialism was introduced, I knew I had found the perfect match and could not wait to apply.

What are your future plans?

I am hoping, through the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme, that I can start working on combatting inequalities and help create a society where everyone is able to reach their full potential.

What advice do you have for other students, young graduates, and those studying Clinical Sciences?

Follow your heart, not the crowd. Being truthfully honest: university is not easy. It is, though, one of the best experiences you will go through. It truly is a rollercoaster – your highs will be out of this world and the lows may try to break you but you will just bounce back stronger than ever.

Believe in yourself and keep an open mind, do not worry if you have not got your whole life sorted right now. You do not need to leave university and have the rest of your career planned out. You never know what doors could open until you try them. Some may be locked and force you to take another route, but that is all part of the journey and by the end of it, you will be glad you took it.

The University of Bradford has definitely shaped me into the person I am today and has been the launchpad to my future. So my final piece of advice is to never limit yourself; dream big and then follow those dreams until hopefully, one day, they become reality.