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SU President inspires Bayes students at their winter graduation ceremony and discusses her career ambitions

By Eve Lacroix (Communications Officer), Published

Student Union President Gesmina Tsourrai opened the academic procession, bearing the ceremonial mace, at City, University of London’s winter graduation ceremony held at the Barbican in the afternoon on Monday 16 January.

Student Union President Gesmina Tsourrai carries the ceremonial mace at the winter graduation ceremonies at the Barbican

Addressing new graduates from Bayes Business School (formerly Cass), she said:

In this room, I see future entrepreneurs with bright and unique ideas, bankers with sharp minds, graduates ready to make change in the professional and corporate financial world.

One of my favourite quotes, from Ghanaian author, Israelmore Ayivor, that stuck with me throughout my journey in higher education reads as: Knowledge is power, power provides information; information leads to education, education breeds wisdom; wisdom is liberation.

You have got the knowledge and power to make change, to help and inform others, and whenever you get the opportunity to do so, please do it.

Her journey to City and finding her path

For Gesmina, this is a special moment. Tomorrow, she will don her mortarboard and cape alongside her fellow School of Policy & Global Affairs graduates to cross the stage and receive a certificate for her MA International Politics & Human Rights.

Prior to joining City, she read psychology at the University of Greenwich but experienced what she describes as a “quarter life crisis” in her final year as her priorities began to shift. She realised she wanted her work to have a bigger impact on society. She interned with the London Metropolitan police force and then took a gap year in which she spent a lot of time reading about law, politics, advocacy and human rights.

Her advice to fellow graduates wondering what to do with their careers is: “Take a deep breath and don’t rush. Try as many things as possible to find out what you’re passionate about and don’t compare yourselves to others.”

She was drawn to City’s MA International Politics & Human Rights because of the variety of modules available on the programme – ranging from diplomacy to human rights to international criminal law. Studying in the heart of London was another major pull.

On her programme, her excitement grew. Her cohort was very international and the range of careers her fellow students aim to pursue is diverse: some aim to become diplomats, others want to work in international criminal law. “The connections made it a memorable year,” she said.

Student politics and her career goals

Gesmina applied the insights she gained during her master’s into practice straightaway when she was elected as Student Union President in July 2022, in which she represents the student voice at City.

SU president gives student speech at winter graduation ceremonies

Working alongside City's President, Professor Sir Anthony Finkelstein, and other senior members of staff, she brings students concerns to senior staff members to make a positive change within the University. In the first term of her mandate, she focused her efforts on the cost-of-living crisis, building community and mental health.

Under her direction, the Student Union worked with the University to gather feedback and create solutions that help reduce the impact of the current cost-of-living crisis on students.

She considers the student experience as a key element of studying, and organised a Culture Festival Day, bringing 15 student societies together to share their home countries’ traditions, culture and food.

In her upcoming term, she will shift her focus towards improving sustainability at City.

She credits the lecturers and academics from her master’s in shaping her ideas and the future direction she hopes to pursue. Looking ahead, when her Student Union President mandate ends in June 2023, she sees herself moving into advocacy and working in an NGO or in the civil service. Inspired by her parents, who are immigrants in her home country of Greece, she hopes to work in immigration and human rights.