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Chair Ladies Series – Hannah Leonard

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at DCU chapter.

Hannah Leonard is the chairperson of the Raising and Giving society (RAG). She loves to sing, act and write and she is quite good at countdown. Hannah is currently studying science education which is course number 3 for her, having done arts last year and started doing physics this year before switching yet again.  Absolutely not, but she hopes to work in the field of helping people wherever she go after college.

The Raising and Giving society is something very close to Hannah’s heart as it has the exact same aims as she does, to make a difference. It fosters growth in its committee and in the people we help. They run a social project or several almost every day of the week helping those experiencing disadvantaged situations and homelessness, people with intellectual disabilities and many more.


  • What made you initially join the society you are now running?

When I joined DCU, I sought out a volunteering society to join. I didn’t know about RAG but I knew I wanted to give back throughout my time in college. When it was described to me at the clubs and socs fair, it seemed like there was so much variety in their volunteering and this is what I loved. I also liked the direct connection they had built with the community and how a lot of the work is done on the ground, face to face with those we help, building relationships and memories.


  • Name three people who inspire you daily.

(I’m a big ol’ cliché here)

My mother, who is genuinely one of the nicest people out there. She will go above and beyond for what’s right and she will help anybody who asks her. She also volunteers with one of the organisations RAG work with called Localise. When asked about it, she will honestly run in the opposite direction because she would never take credit for any of it. For somebody to have that sense of kindness so strongly indented within them that they see no need for praise, is remarkable. She would claim she is just doing what anybody else would do, but I know this is not the case. She does all of this and also finds the time to have hobbies, to look after herself and to continue to learn in her field of work.


My boyfriend, who works tirelessly every day. If there is a problem, he’s the man who will fix it. He’s the chap who will exhaust every solution until he finds one that works (but most of the time he gets it on his first try). He will help anybody in a bad situation, no matter who they are or what they do, because that’s who he is, and he is fantastic at it. He will push himself and will persevere like no other. He has so much patience with life, the people around him and most importantly himself. It is truly inspiring how he carries himself and how he gives back to those around him, no questions asked, just a “no bother at all” and a wave.


This last one is a strange one, but I’m going to say myself. My past self inspires me not to give up when times are tough, because she didn’t, she got through it and I owe it to her to persevere. My future self inspires me because I have a vision of what I want to be and what I want to achieve, and I will work tirelessly to do so. My present self inspires me because she has hope. She has a desire for happiness, for health and for the very same for those around her.


  • What are the rays of sunshine and the clouds of rain aspects of chairing a society?


The clouds of rain of chairing a society mainly revolve around time. You’re robbed of a lot of it, and then it flies by and the rays of sunshine don’t get to sink in as much as you’d like them to. For me, my rays of sunshine are the effects it has on both our volunteers and the people we help. To see somebody’s face light up because they’re at a RAG event or social project or to see the kids in Ballymun yell “I remember you!” , it’s heart-warming. I could be exhausted from a full day of college, society work and volunteering and it will just take one laugh of a woman learning how to cook in “Ballymunch” for me to perk up just a little bit and remember that it is all worth it.


  • What are your college staples to get you through the college day?


A bottle of coke. There is not a moment in the day where you will spot me without one. Unhealthy? Of course. But it keeps me going 9-5! For chairing in particular, Google Calendar is a must to get through any day. If it’s not on the calendar, it probably isn’t happening (or I’ve forgotten to put it in, oops!). Other than that, your standard multi-colour pen and refill pad hasn’t failed me yet!


  • What is your favourite college memory?

My favourite college memory is probably winning “Most Promising Fresher” at the Clubs and Socs Awards last year. I had only learned about the awards a few weeks prior when I was asked to fill in the application form. I argued that it wasn’t why I put so much work into RAG, but the committee were adamant I do it. When the ceremony came to a close, so many people who I knew but hadn’t really spoken to that year, hugged me and congratulated me, people I had no idea even knew who I was. It was only really then that I realised the extent of work I had done with RAG in my first year of college, and the difference I had made. I had gained notoriety for simply wanting to help people, a reason I believe more people should be noticed for. It really helped me take ownership of my achievements and believe in myself. So much so that I ran for chair, and I will be thankful for that push for the rest of my life.


  • For people who are somewhat shy at the prospect of joining a society, what advice would you give to them?


Feel the fear and do it anyway. Nobody is asking you to not be nervous. College is scary! But joining a society can change your life in ways you never thought imaginable. If you get involved with something you truly care about, you’re going to find people who truly care about it too, and with that kind of support and adventure around you, there is truly nothing out of your reach. Societies are a land of opportunity, so why shy away?


  • Would you consider yourself a GirlBoss? And with that, what defines a GirlBoss, in your opinion?


To be completely honest, no. I may be what people consider a “Boss” in the sense that I lead a group and I hope to do so effectively and unapologetically. But my gender has nothing to do with that status. I will not separate myself from other great “Bosses” just because of that. I am a leader and a fighter for what’s right.


  • What should we look forward to with your society this year?


Getting involved! My aim for RAG this year is to harness as many people’s talents and skills and show them how to use them to give back! If you like to dance, share that with people who need a bit of activity in their life, if you like to cook, teach somebody how to cook or if all you like to do is sit down with a good cup of tea, I promise you somebody will sit with you, and they will be better off for it.


Look forward to giving back in anyway RAG offers it to you, whether its by direct volunteering or buying a ticket to RAG Rumble, look forward to making a difference.


  • Describe your society in 6 words?

Eye-opening, Fun, Caring, Whacky, Surprising, Home.


My name is Niamh Dunne. I am a 20 year old student in DCU studying Media Studies and Politics. I have a huge passion for writing and fashion. I hope to become a political correspondent for either TV or radio once I have graduated college! x
 21 Campus Correspondent for HC DCU  Love interviewing empowering people to give them the love and attention they deserve!