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Alan Strickland. Age: 22. Job: President of Oxford University Student Union Attended: Queen Elizabeth Sixth Form College, Darlington, 2000-02 Studied: A-level politics, philosophy, English literature, general studies and AS-level history.

Watch out for the name of Alan Strickland. His aspirations suggest he will have a glittering career in politics. He achieved straight As at A-level and remembers fondly his further education teachers.

Being at QE allowed me to debate international issues in the Model United Nations and really explore what I thought about the world and what interested me. Academic interests are fine, but political issues only inspire real passion if you get involved.

The staff were incredibly supportive and flexible with deadlines if I had something big outside of college. They seemed to care about personal development in the widest sense.

I think going to college made me a lot more confident. I've never regretted leaving my school.

While I'd always been interested in politics - one of those young people constantly angry at the state of the world - being elected student vice-president at QE was the first time I'd really held office.

My aim is to reach the end of my life feeling content that I did as much as I could to make a difference and it had some positive use.

Without my experiences at QE, I'm certain my life would have worked out quite differently. I remember all of the teachers being really good, particularly Kath Hawkins, who helped run Model United Nations and had more energy than anyone I've ever met. Linda Chadd, my politics and philosophy tutor, brought the most wonderfully dry sense of humour to the subject, which is the only way to think about a lot of politics. I recall Anita Blackburn, who dragged us kicking and screaming through Lutherenism, for her incessant patience. All in all, a positive experience.

Alan Strickland was talking to Shekhar Bhatia

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