By students, for students

A student’s achievements are more than their academic successes, but how do we capture and celebrate accomplishments outside of the lecture theatre?

Created by students for students, the Spirit of Sussex Award (SOSA) initiative was launched in 2020 to celebrate the wider university experience. By entering for the award, students can earn points for their voluntary, extra-curricular and co-curricular activities. They can start collecting points from the start of their degree and have the entire length of their course in which to complete the award. Each time a student completes an activity, they log their points via the SOSA platform.

There are many activities students can take part in to earn points, such as being an ambassador, undertaking training, and taking part in sports and recreational activities, as well as volunteering and fundraising. The awards are 25 points for bronze, 50 for silver and 75 for gold. On average, 70% of students taking part receive a gold award.

“Logging my points with the Spirit of Sussex Award allowed me to realise how much I have done and achieved so far in my academic progress,” says Bruno Pellegrino De Queiroz (International Relations and Development 2022). “It makes me feel happy and proud of myself. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how far we’ve come and grown, so I’m glad for SOSA to remind me of all the activities I’ve participated in outside of my course.”

SOSA can also help students to get more involved in life at Sussex, helping them to make friends and build a wider network while they are with the University. Participating in activities outside of the classroom can help students to find their community and feel more connected to Sussex. There are regular events, workshops and opportunities to network and meet guest speakers, as well as an annual ceremony and celebration event for award winners.

The annual celebration is held in the summer to congratulate and welcome final year students who took part in SOSA into the Award community. Guest speakers who either studied at Sussex or have a connection to the University are invited, and in 2023 inspiring alumna Corinne Furman spoke at the event. Corinne graduated in 2020 with a BA in Drama: Theatre and Performance, and has since appeared in films, including the Fisherman’s Friends sequel. There is also the opportunity to meet, network and share experiences with speakers and other award winners at the celebration.

Faye Tucknott, Student Engagement Manager for SOSA, says she wants the award to be something that students can reflect and build upon as part of their Sussex legacy: “Whether they were a committee member of a society, cooked food for One World Week or presented a business idea for the Pitch for the Planet competition, we hope students can look back on their time at Sussex and know that, by participating, organising or leading events and activities, they left their mark in some way.”

To date, almost 3,000 students have taken part in the Spirit of Sussex Award programme and the numbers are growing year on year. Many have gone on to take on part-time roles and internships, learn new hobbies and skills, complete certified training courses and join societies, serving as committee members and, in the case of Oliver Pentz (BSMS 2020), a society president.

“The thing I loved most about my work with societies is the opportunity to work with so many talented, brilliant people,” says Oliver. “It was a real privilege to develop friendships and be inspired by the committees I worked with. For me, the Spirit of Sussex Award is a lovely opportunity to reflect on the relationships and celebrate the successes of my time as a society president.”

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