Jan – Apr 2021 (Part 1)
(This term's entry separated into 2 parts due to character limits)
Term 2 was a true test of my time management skills, as on top of gearing up for the final exams of my degree I was also applying to internships and postgraduate courses, planning Society events for the BioSoc, and also launching my self-founded Society – the brand new Warwick Knitting and Crochet Society!
Knitting has always been one of my favourite hobbies for years. In the past two years of my time at Warwick, I frequently saw online talk about starting a KnitSoc and signed their interest forms, however perhaps due to not having enough student numbers they were not launched. Now in my third year, I decided to take the plunge and try my luck with collecting sufficient signatures of interest, writing up a proposal, and pitching it to the Societies’ Committee of the Students’ Union.
I was overjoyed when I heard back from the SU that KnitSoc was approved, and set off asking around for other students to join the pioneering executive committee of the Society.
The main goals I wished to achieve with founding this Society were to:
1) Provide a community for total beginners to advanced members to hone their craft, virtually socialise during lockdown and pursue a hobby that is calming, fulfilling and a great way to de-stress.
2) Teach knitting/crochet as a fun and creative skill through educational sessions and mentoring.
3) Support vulnerable persons through volunteering projects such as donations of useful items to homeless shelters or “preemies,” and charity auctions of handmade items.
To give us the best chance of success of fulfilling these goals, I created specialised roles such as Education Officers and a Charities Officer, on top of the usual roles such as Social Secretaries and a Treasurer.
While advertising the Society virtually through social media, I was initially worried that there again wouldn’t be sufficient interest for what I assumed was a niche hobby, especially for the average university age group. However I was pleasantly surprised as I received an overwhelming response of people asking to join the Committee and the Society in general! As such, our Society was able to start off with a strong Exec of 13, and over 80+ members joined our chat group within a matter of weeks.
In order to give members a way to socialise over lockdown, we planned casual weekly sessions every Friday evening for people to just get together on a video call and talk about our projects, troubleshoot difficult pieces or just chat about how the week had gone. I am very proud to announce that our first ever session was a great success with almost 30 attendees! I continued to host these sessions throughout the 10 weeks of term, and even received heartwarming feedback that people looked forward to our sessions to end off their week of school work. Our Society group chat was also incredibly active with members sharing their work or recommendations for tools and patterns. So far, my only regret is not applying to start this Society earlier, as I won’t be able to dedicate as much time to it after graduating!
A couple of pieces I completed over the course of the term:
On the academic side, I was wrapping up one of my favourite modules, Navigating Psychopathology which is taught by Warwick’s Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning (IATL). I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity this year to take modules outside of my home Department, as this class allowed me to experience the learning of other subjects (ranging from psychology and neuroscience to film and literature) with classmates from many other Departments.
We were also given great flexibility in our final assessment – a reflective essay compiling the 10 weeks of learning/discussion as well as a final essay on a topic of our choice. I chose to explore the DSM-based system of diagnosing mental disorders, writing about the increasing evidence against using it for the diagnosis of psychiatric conditions.
This included an overview of its rather chequered past, to the harmful consequences to Medicine of dependence on a rigidly categorised form of diagnosis. I then analysed the sociocultural changes towards mental health and psychiatry, especially as a consequence of changes to the manual over its editions – for example, the decision made by its editorial committee to change the maximum age of ADHD diagnosis criteria.
Despite this, I made sure to weigh the benefits of having such a manual, such as for the purposes of administration, legislation and medical record-keeping for patients.
The research and thinking that I carried out for this essay was a period of great learning and introspection, as it allowed me to consider how my degree/field of Biology is applied in the “real world.”
Overall, undertaking this module gave me an increased appreciation of interdisciplinarity across seemingly unconnected subjects, and also opened my eyes to my great interest in this field as a potential pathway for integrating scientific and humanistic research.