Shakira Martin is now president-elect of the National Union of Students, after winning 56 per cent of the vote in the first round. Shakira is a 28-year-old, black single mother from a working class background; she has two children and has previously spoken about how further education has been a lifeline for her and her family.
During the election Shakira positioned herself as the centrist candidate between the incumbent Malia Bouattia and reformist Tom Harwood. Shakira has spoken of a “new NUS”, which will focus on its 7 million members instead of the union president. Her campaign centred on how further education and student unions can improve the lives of individuals as she described how further education had created new opportunities for herself and her family. During her election speech she spoke of creating a student movement which “listens, learns and leads” by enabling greater access to the union for students and to benefit from the opportunities that the union can provide.
Shakira said: “I am honoured and humbled to have been elected as NUS’ National President. I take this as a vote of trust that our members believe I can lead our national movement to be the fighting and campaigning organisation we need it to be, representing the breadth of our diverse membership. Further Education made me who I am today and look forward to sharing stories of just how powerful all forms of education can be when we’re all given access to it. During my term in office I want to spend my time listening, learning and leading.”
Last week more than 1200 students, campaigners and elected officials from higher and further education, as well as apprentices from across the UK were in Brighton to debate and decide the key policy issues which are affecting students.
The National Conference is the sovereign policy-making body of the NUS, its purpose is to discuss, debate and vote on motions as well as to elect the political leadership of the organisation for the year ahead. The elections currently taking place include the National President, five Vice-President positions and the “Block of 15” all of which sit on the National Executive council.