Meet the Robertson Scholars currently taking part in the John Smith Public Service Award:

Sophie McAllister

Sophie is studying Law at the University of Aberdeen.

She says, “I am currently in my second year at Aberdeen University studying law, and I love the elements of my degree focusing on constitutional and public law. I am originally from Musselburgh, where I received a saltire award for my time spent volunteering. I care deeply about social inequality, and representation of minority groups. Furthermore, I am also very interested in the challenges within the justice system and potential areas for reform. My keen interest for politics is rooted in these issues; as I believe it provides the perfect setting to evoke change that would benefit all.

I am very excited to get an insight into the day-to-day responsibilities and vital work of an MSP and those working in their office. I hope this will allow me to gain the essential skills required to have a meaningful career in politics and public service. I also believe that this is an excellent opportunity to develop my communication and research skills, both spoken and written. Furthermore, I am interested in the typical challenges faced by constituents that are referred to their MSP and how these are tackled by the constituency office. Overall, I am thrilled to be a small part of supporting an MSP in helping people and implementing change.”

Host MSP: Gillian Martin MSP – SNP

Zoe Campbell

Zoe is studying Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh

She says, “I have lived in Leven, Fife all of my life, and went to school here. After school, I decided to study sociology at The University of Edinburgh.

In the future, I hope to either go into secondary school teaching of modern studies, or do parliamentary work such as policy advising within government. However, from my Volunteer work with young people from deprived communities, I have developed a keen interest in understanding the impact of socioeconomic inequalities, so I hope that any of my future endeavours will surround assisting in this area.

I hope to gain a deeper understanding of the work in parliament which is often not seen by the public, and to see more of the work done on a local level by MSPs. I am also excited to have the opportunity to further understand the concerns the public have in today’s political climate, and therefore to see how this can be solved by a constituency office.”

Host MSP: Ben Macpherson MSP – SNP

Caitie Dundas

Caitie is studying History and Politics at the University of Glasgow.

She says, “I am originally from a small village south of Inverness, in the Highlands, and am now enjoying studying towards a History and Politics degree at the University of Glasgow. I’ve had a keen interest in politics for close to a decade now, which I fostered by participating in youth advocacy groups, including the Highland, Scottish and UK Youth Parliaments. They offered me wonderful experiences, such as speaking at Scotland’s Women Stand in 2019, and attending a cabinet meeting in 2020. Through this, I became passionate about the importance of equality and making sure everyone’s voice is heard within political processes.

From my internship, I’m looking forward to learning more about the delivery of public service at a local level and observing the relationship between constituents and their MSP. I’m excited to gain insight into this by learning from my host MSP, but also their office staff and constituents. I’m really keen to put all the skills and knowledge I’ve learnt from my previous work and degree to good use, and develop them further through first-hand experience. Finally, I hope that my internship will help me better understand my options for a possible future career within public service, and equip me with transferrable skills I can bring to later opportunities.

As somebody with a personal interest in social justice and international affairs, I enjoy spending time volunteering in the Glasgow University Amnesty International and Successful Women at Glasgow Societies. Outside of university, I like listening to music and have really appreciated the chance to attend lots of concerts again over the past few months. I am also a keen reader, and am interested in expanding my worldview by reading non-fiction books, particularly about current affairs and feminism. When I have time, I also enjoy getting lost in novels and spending time with my friends.”

LinkedIn: Caitie Dundas

Twitter: @CaitieDundas

Host MSP: Nicola Sturgeon MSP – SNP

Host MP: Stewart McDonald MP – SNP

Iqra Mahmood

Iqra is studying Scots Law and Business Management at the University of Glasgow.

She says, “I am a second year Scots Law and Business Management student at the University of Glasgow. Currently, I am also part of BrightHER, which is a social project launched via ENACTUS to empower women through workshops. Further, I am a Juniper Trust Associate, which means I am constantly up-skilling and learning.

A huge pull to the programme was the chance for to be hands on and in frontline public service roles. This would be a great opportunity, because I want to be uncomfortable, want to continue to like being uncomfortable and want to cultivate my strive to improve into abilities and strengths. I specifically also want to sharpen my skills in political research and analysis, as this is something I look to further cultivate.

When I am not working, I love indoor rock climbing, hiking and also chess. I strongly believe a semblance of work-life balance is an incredible growth motivator and inspires resilience, but also acknowledge that I’m in a privileged position to have this free time.”

LinkedIn: Iqra Mahmood

Host MSP: Kaukab Stewart MSP – SNP

Host MP: Anum Qaisar MP – SNP

Harry Grieve

Harry is originally from Kircaldy and is studying Law at the University of Edinburgh. He is very interested in working in public service and potentially becoming a future MSP. He is keen on working for the best interests of others which stems from his youth work which he carried out at Viewforth Youth Club during high school.

Harry says, “I am keen to strengthen my communication skills, both written and oral. I look forward to attaining a sense of awareness of how Parliament operates and how MSPs engage with Parliament. Alongside this, I hope to understand what work MSPs carry out on a day-to-day basis, and get a feeling of the wide range of issues that are approached and tackled by constituency offices. I also hope to network with members of the public service, and make connections that I otherwise would not have been given the opportunity to do so.”

In his spare time Harry enjoys watching horror movies and listening to music. He is also a member of his university’s Mooting Society.

Host MSP: Miles Briggs MSP – Conservatives

Host MP: John Lamont MP – Conservatives

John Fleming

John is studying History and Politics at the University of Dundee. He is very interested in politics, particularly foreign policy, and staying informed of current affairs. John grew up in the small town of Rosyth, near Dunfermline where he worked as a volunteer tour guide. From this he developed a passion in public service that he hopes to bring to a wider level by working as a civil servant in his future career.

John says, “I’m very excited to be able to work directly with an MSP in their constituency office and find out more about the work that they do on the frontline of public politics. Although I enjoy learning about the abstract theories of politics and international relations at university, I feel that it will be very beneficial for me to experience first-hand the work that is done by our elected politicians, and to be able to contribute to their policies and programs.”

John loves to listen to music and is a keen cook. He likes to be involved in his local community, especially through the politics society at Dundee.

Host MSP: Jenny Gilruth MSP – SNP

Host MP: Chris Law MP – SNP

Ross Barclay

Ross is originally from Glenrothes and is currently studying International Relations and Management at the University of St Andrews. He is enthusiastic about public service and is a former Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament.

Ross says: “During my internship I hope to learn more about casework and how MSPs divide their time between Parliament and their constituency or region. I would also like to look at how elected representatives work with the civil service and parliamentary staff.”

In his spare time, Ross loves to cycle, learning languages and travelling.

Host MSP: Willie Rennie MSP – Liberal Democrats

Host MP: Alison Thewliss MP – SNP


Robyn Lucas

Robyn is a Law student at the University of Glasgow, and is originally from Dundee.

Robyn says “I’m very excited to begin my Parliamentary Internship and continue to develop my communication and networking skills. I look forward to helping my host MSP continue to make a difference in their area, and to helping improve constituents’ lives however I can.”

Robyn is very interested in politics, and is also passionate about music and film, and enjoys taking part in local activism.

Host MSP: Nicola Sturgeon MSP – SNP

Megan Sutherland

Megan is currently studying Social and Public Policy and Statistics at the University of Glasgow.

Megan used advocacy from Who Cares? Scotland whilst living in the Care system as a child and became a Trustee of the charity in 2015. Since then she has campaigned to make radical change to ensure a lifetime of equality, respect and love for all care experienced people. She hopes to join the civil service in the future.

Megan says “I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to be able to learn from experts about elevating citizen’s voices to create meaningful change. I am proudly part of a movement working to ensure all care experienced people, a group suffering some of the worst outcomes in our society, experience equality, respect and love. I feel incredibly excited to be starting the internship and determined to use everything I learn from the experience to make the biggest impact I can towards this mission for future generations.”

Megan also enjoys exploring new cities and crime dramas.

Host MSP: Maurice Golden MSP – Conservatives

Host MP: Drew Hendry MP – SNP

Zainab Magzoub

Zainab is a student at the University of St Andrews. She is originally from Sudan, and moved to Scotland in 2005 when she was 10 years old. Zainab has long been interested in community work and has recently worked to raise awareness of, and tackle, FGM in Scotland. She hopes to work in development or human rights after university.

Zainab says: “I’m very excited to be accepted on to this award as it will open up new opportunities for me to gain first hand experience and insight into the world of politics, something which has previously felt somewhat inaccessible.”

In her spare time, Zainab enjoys reading, writing, cooking and yoga.

Host MSP: Joe FitzPatrick MSP – SNP

Host MP: Wendy Chamberlain MP – Liberal Democrats

Jordan Cavell

Jordan is a student at the University of St Andrews, where he is studying International Relations. He is originally from Livingston and has a keen interest in Politics.

Jordan says, “Receiving the John Smith Award opens doors that would have been hard to open. I’ll be able to gain a unique experience working in both Holyrood and Westminster. The networks and opportunities this will provide will be life-changing.”

In his spare time, Jordan enjoys reading fiction and non-fiction and listens to a wide variety of music. He is also an active member of his university’s debating society.

Host MSP: Willie Rennie MSP – Liberal Democrats

Host MP: Chris Law MP – SNP