Activities, Sports Clubs and Societies

Small Talk with: Velvetina, President of the Chess Society

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Velvetina has big ambitions – both for herself and for the Chess Society which she formed this year. They have already competed in the British Universities Chess Championships and Velvetina plans to get to a level to compete with universities like Imperial and Cambridge. Here, she talks about her journey – what she got out of it and what she learned about herself.

What course are you studying? What do you enjoy most about it?

I am a second year undergraduate psychology with management student! What I enjoy most about this course is the full support given by the faculty in developing our research interests! Each of the staff are highly specialised in their research fields and are able to teach and guide us to reach our full potential.

Tell me about the activities you have done this year alongside your degree

I have been involved with managing the newly formed Chess society this year. We were able to engage people into coming for sessions to play chess and provide a safe space for communal bonding over this intellectual game. Furthermore, we also sent a team out to the British Universities Chess Association Championships 2016 in the Shield category to compete!

Why did you decide to start a chess society?

Being a second year student, I felt that this was the best time to hone and demonstrate my leadership potential because I’m at the stage where I am comfortable and know my way around Goldsmiths, and can help to leave a legacy at Goldsmiths while I still have enough time to spare! I’ve always loved playing chess but could not find anyone to really play with me. Founding the Chess Society provided an official space for individuals like me to play chess using proper equipment and to form a group identity within Goldsmiths. Having discovered an unofficial club was great because we had really good chess players who continued to play Chess, and this motivated me to improve my own skills as well to match up to the others! I hope that by establishing this society, we could develop a decent chess team that could eventually match up to the likes of Imperial and Cambridge. This would really encourage our players at Goldsmiths to see this as a team sport as well, which would be great for morale in our university!

What advice would you give to other students who are thinking of getting involved in activities?

Generally, I would advise students engaging in any activity to be committed as much as they can to the particular activities they are doing! University is a period where you are finding yourself and often, in the pursuit of trying everything, you can spread yourself too thin, and it prevents you from learning as much as you could have from one particular activity! Speaking from past experience, it is somehow more fulfilling to be master of one or two activities instead of a jack of all trades!

What have you learned about yourself this year from starting a society?

Being involved in Chess Society has taught me several points. Firstly, the amount of commitment that goes into running a society should not be taken lightly. The passion for chess did grow once I got into the hang of running a society, but initially it was quite challenging to set parameters and a long term plan for the society to function. Gradually, I realised that it was important to constantly adapt my leadership style according to the members we had in our society, so that I could connect with them and help provide the best support that they needed, no matter what it was. Lastly, I also realised that I tend to spread myself thin, as I previously advised against, which was important to recognise for my future personal development and for the management of Chess next year.

Why did you want to record your activities on your HEAR?

I felt that the HEAR was a great way to record the official school activities and my leadership roles in them, using an official and recognised format by the University. Often a lot of side activities get ignored and forgotten, when they have actually made a great impact in my character development. Using the HEAR, I can record the activities done and include them in my CV, and hopefully this will boost my employability.

Do you know what you want to do when you graduate?

Currently I have identified three ideal career paths, of which none have been set in stone yet! Firstly, I would like to be involved in the finance sector, more specifically towards wealth management. I find the topic very interesting because I love crunching numbers, and I do like the high pressure involved in such a career on a daily basis. Furthermore, having gained minimal experience in trading this year using online platforms was an eye opener and I could see myself in this career.

Secondly, I also thought about entering academia, because of my developing interest in conducting research in my chosen field of psychology. I have always been interested in dark personalities and I do love the idea of researching these personality constructs on a deeper level, given the chance. Furthermore this career is quite stable and less volatile, allowing me to focus on research as well!

Lastly, my long term goal is to end up in managing my own business, ideally a theatre company. I’ve always been passionate about the arts, and the theatre has always been my form of solace to go to. I do want to manage a theatre company and to bring quality performances to audiences who could be provoked into contemplating messages that relate to our current way of functioning in society. This would hopefully contribute to a legacy where arts play a more important role in our daily lives, other than the function of entertainment.

Do you think the experience you have gained from your co-curricular activities will help you in any way with your future plans?

My experience from my co-curricular activities has primarily taught me the importance of time management, and project management as well. My busy schedule this year meant that it was important that I had a one month plan of what I had to do, and a microschedule of my day to day activities, so that I could plan ahead for activities and stay on track! This is very important for my chosen careers, because they can be quite time sensitive, as finance careers can be, or need a long term plans, as arts companies tend to adopt.

Do you have any big goals or plans for next academic year?

Next year, I would like to publish a journal article to get the research experience! I would also like to write a play, to get in touch with my artistic self again, which I’ve been neglecting this year, in favour of my other activities.


Interested in joining or starting a society next year? All the information you need is on the Goldsmiths Students’ Union website.

Want to find out more about recording your society roles on your HEAR? Contact Joanie,


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