Our class of 2021 really are something to shout about. They’ve overcome challenges, helped others, grasped opportunities and developed their skills, showing their Essex Spirit in so many ways. And they’ve done it all during a pandemic when student life has been changed beyond recognition. We couldn’t be prouder of them so we’re telling their stories.
Wed 14 Jul 21
A desire to travel and witnessing democratisation in Lithuania inspired Justas Sankauskas to apply to Essex but it was our diverse international community that really opened his eyes to new cultures and opportunities.
“I became passionate about politics and international relations through having grown up in an inspirational political period in Lithuania which served as an example of the positive influence democratisation, effective international co-operation or good economic policy can have on a country,” said Justas, who is graduating with a BA Politics and International Relations.
“I was always passionate about travelling, learning about different cultures or ways of living. A degree in Politics and International Relations was a perfect mix.”
Coming to Essex didn’t disappoint and has inspired Justas to grasp every opportunity to develop his skills.
“The University community is so international and diverse. I was constantly exposed to different ideas. The possibility of being able to discuss with people from so many different places and origins was an extraordinary experience.”
He credits his first year at Essex with giving him the motivation to travel across the world to spend a summer teaching in South Korea, which he described as “an immense learning opportunity.”
“Every day in South Korea brought something new. No two days or two conversations were ever the same. Teaching locals provided me with a sense of true immersion and belonging, as only a few weeks in I already had plenty of local friends,” he said.
"The University community is so international and diverse. I was constantly exposed to different ideas. The possibility of being able to discuss with people from so many different places and origins was an extraordinary experience."
Justas co-founded the Environmental Sustainability Society at Essex too, with the aim of raising awareness of the climate emergency and encouraging others to actively participate in a more sustainable way of living.
He has also been prominent in the Public Speaking Society - which he became President of - since his first year on Campus: “It taught me to become much more fluent in expressing myself,” he said.
“Pushing myself past fears of speaking in public and then celebrating that with peers who went through the same fear-victory adrenaline rollercoaster still count as some of my most memorable moments from my three years in Essex,” he added.
Justas has made every minute of his Essex experience count but it was learning French alongside his studies that he says is his proudest achievement: “Learning any language is highly challenging, forcing yourself to escape your comfort zone every step of the way. It ended up being one of the most rewarding experiences.”
Justas, who plans to apply for a Masters, had this advice for new students: “Keep an open mind, push yourself to try new things and push yourself to get out of your comfort zone.”