Volunteer Spotlight: Haadi Shalabi, Judge of National Science + Engineering Competition By Haadi Shalabi, Judge at National Science + Engineering Competition 2015 ____________ My name is Haadi Shalabi, and I've recently qualified as a Doctor in Nottingham. My future goal is to become a surgeon, pushing forward the current best surgical practice at both a practicing and researcher level. Alongside my goal to work as a surgeon in UK, I have an additional strong interest in strengthening surgical systems in developing countries, where it is estimated that 5 billion people do not have access to timely surgical care. I was first involved with the British Science Association in 2008, when I entered the first ever National Science + Engineering Competition. It was a privilege to be awarded among the top 5 at the finals of the Competition at the Big Bang Fair in London. I have been invited to return each year to help run the event, in the capacity of a Competitor Care Volunteer. This role entails providing on-the-ground advice and support for competitors. Initially we started out as a small team of only 4 people, but we have however grown to a strong team of 15, all of us having previously competed in the finals of the competition. Alongside this role, it has been an honour to act as an ambassador for the National Science + Engineering Competition, advocating for youth engagement in science and technology at a local, regional, and national level. This year I was given the honour of being a core judge during the finals of the Competition this year. It’s been exciting to stimulate competitors to excel in their field. They often underestimate their capabilities and knowledge, and only need to push to show their real potential! Most of all, judging projects is ultimately an opportunity to celebrate competitor’s achievements and ambitions. It has always been a personal passion for me to conduct research in science and technology, at an individual level. However, I firmly believe that by reaching out to a network of individuals with a passion in this field, one can bring about change on a grand scale. The beauty of being involved with the British Science Association is the involvement with the youth of UK; they are the most optimistic, enthusiastic, resourceful, and powerful cohort of the country. One particular memory that will always stay with me happened several years ago, at the National Science + Engineering Competition. I came across a young man in the middle of his A-levels, who I had noticed to be slightly detached and disengaging. When I spoke to him, I discovered that he had been planning to study economics at University. However, having been involved in a medical research project with his close friend (for which they were presenting at the Competition Finals), it had altered his career ambitions completely towards medicine. He was passionate and wanted to change track to study medicine, but was distraught as he was already well underway studying incompatible subjects, and without the necessary extra-curricular experience. He told me frankly that he would have to drop this newfound desire because of this. It was a privilege to speak to him, and together we identified the next steps, and created solutions for the key problems he was facing. Having kept in contact with him, it is a delight to know that he is now studying Medicine, and has never been happier. Interested in volunteering with the British Science Association? Involve yourself whole-heartedly, seek and acquire opportunities in every kind of modality. There is no better place to invest our time and efforts than the youth of today, who are to become the leaders of tomorrow. We would like to thank Haadi, the Finalist Care Volunteers and the other NSEC judges, for their continued support of the British Science Association. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer at the BSA.