For those students who want the most out of their university experience; not just lectures and graduation but also everything in between, joining a student organisation enriches their experience. It is a great way to network, an ideal stepping stone for leadership roles in the future, and an opportunity to make a difference. For second-year law student James Caruana, the newly-elected President of ELSA Malta, being surrounded by like-minded students supporting their common goals is broadening his horizons and helping him think about law outside the classroom.
The Maltese branch of the European Law Students’ Association was founded in 1986, and forms part of a larger European network of more than 70,000 students represented through 375 law faculties.
Upon congratulating him on his new role, Newspoint briefly chatted with James to find out what’s on his mind.
How long have you been involved in ELSA, and in what roles?
This is my second year in ELSA Malta, going on to the third. I joined as a helper where I attended various events to get an idea what the organisation was all about. I immediately felt at home with the executive board because I felt we were both committed to make a difference in the university community.
When the term 2018-2019 came to an end, I was nominated to take up the post of Vice President for Marketing. I accepted the nomination immediately, and throughout that term, I took care of all the marketing materials together with the Director for Public Relations. So far, it’s been nothing but good memories and experiences and I can’t wait to continue pushing ELSA Malta forward throughout my term.
What are your hopes in terms of your personal career?
So far, the law course is proving to be more interesting than I could have ever imagined. I have not really made up my mind yet career-wise, but I plan to finish my degree and masters and see which opportunities arise at that point in time. I’m not really one to plan so far ahead as you can never know how things change.
How useful have your course mates, lecturers and the rest of the UM community been in helping you reach your potential?
Taking the COVID-19 experience as a context for this question, at the beginning I was quite worried as I couldn’t imagine a new learning system being set up in time for this scholastic year. Aside from this, the University itself had never delved into online lectures before. Despite all this, however, I can proudly say the Faculty adapted to these extraordinary circumstances, albeit with room for improvement. Online lectures were conducted and material was still covered.
What is ELSA planning for the following scholastic year?
The ELSA Malta calendar is quite packed with events happening every month. Since COVID-19 measures are easing and people will slowly get back to socialising, I am very excited to be probably hosting most if not all of our events, unless the situation changes of course. To mention a few events, we will be organising the much-awaited yearly How-To Sessions, our various moot court competitions, our yearly Fresher’s Week live-in, as well as various other conferences and social events. If we are required to shift some of these events online, we are fully equipped to do so.
What are your priorities as President for ELSA?
I want to keep last year’s momentum going and motivate my new Board to continue to provide the law students with the representation they deserve. I am also committed to doing my job, which is to be a bridge or mediator between the Faculty and the student body, all while trying our best to make student life a little more interactive, and a little more enjoyable.
The one thing I wish to give the law student is value through all of our events and representation.
How useful is your education at the University of Malta in making you the person you are today?
I believe the University of Malta is not just about the academic experience, and that is a perception that needs to change. The environment and people I met through UM are people who will remain in my life for many years to come and I will most likely be working with most of them. My UM experience has also been nothing short of amazing because it is helping me build a tougher character and enhance my academic skills as well as what I call general life skills that will help me outside of class.
Why is it important for student organisations and public entities in general to take a stand on issues of national importance?
I believe that if we, the future of this country and the world, do not use our voice to make an impact, then no one will. My perception is that all student organisations are a medium through which members feel safe to express themselves and their views through their participation.