By Robert Wheatley
Students work incredibly hard to complete their degrees, and sometimes balancing work and extra-curricular activities alongside it. It was for this reason that the Dean’s Awards were created, to honor the students that have taken part in social-enterprise, commercial work experience, study abroad programmes, and for those that have excelled in their studies and work.
Nominations for this year’s Dean’s Awards include ‘Outstanding engagement with extracurricular activities’, which recognises a student’s achievement in other areas at university like sports, performing arts and societies; ‘Transformation through work experience’, highlighting a student’s development of key employability skills; and ‘Contribution to the life of the School’, whereby a student has contributed to a cohort or activity within the School of Humanities.
Seven University of Hertfordshire students were nominated across the seven award categories, including Muhammad Islam, the winner of the ‘Impact through charity or community work’ award; Alexandra Anderson, highly commended for the ‘Commitment to global awareness and understanding’ award; Callum Cockerell, as the winner of ‘Transformation through work experience’; and Samantha Sturgess as highly commended for the ‘Contribution to the life of the School’ award.
The Trident managed to catch up with three of the seven award-winners after the ceremony, who detailed their experience achieving their award, how they managed to get nominated, and what it has meant to them.
What was your award category, and what did you do to achieve this award?
“My award was outstanding academic results with extracurricular activities (something like that; I always forget the name as it’s so long!). In my final year, I studied my joint honours, worked as a sales assistant at the SU shop, worked as an Activator for Active students, was a student representative, and also played Futsal for the University, and acted as a peer mentor and, of course, was Head of Editorial for Trident Media!”
“I was nominated for two awards categories. I received a highly commended award for ‘Transformation through work experience’, and a winners award for ‘International awareness and understanding’.”
“Though it is difficult to work or volunteer part-time on top of studying a full-time degree, in the job climate for all of us it is very important to have varied work experience. As a journalist, I think it is significantly important to have as broad a perspective of life as possible – and the best way to have a perspective on life is to live it. Working in different jobs while studying allowed me to do this, but more importantly allowed me to grow as a person. Working as a dementia care assistant, a football referee, a journalist and a producer for BBC and Sky News, and working in the university as a student ambassador and student representative coordinator challenged me to grow and develop as a student and person.
“While studying, I also volunteered in the UH Erasmus Student Exchange Society, which allowed me to put on events and make friends with exchange students at university. Being in the society helped broaden my perspective of life, having friends from different countries, and this inspired me to study abroad. Fortunately, because of my work experience, I was able to study a prestigious course at the Dutch and Danish Schools of Journalism, and report as a journalist from different European countries… studying and working abroad showed me how an international perspective is necessary as well as possible, and has also helped me advise and guide other students to study abroad and do well for themselves.”
“I won in the category ‘Contribution to the life of the School’. I had a very active final-year in terms of my participation within university societies, groups, and projects; I was a peer mentor, a student ambassador for my school, student representative, as well as a participant in the universities BME working group, and I was lucky enough to take part in an international philosophical journal. I believe that my peers and academic staff saw the effort I was making, and put me up for this award!”
What inspired you to sign up for the Dean’s Awards?
“I did not know about these awards, and someone else saw them and told me to apply to see if I could get recognised for the hard work I put in whilst studying. So, I did, and it was worth it!”
“The Dean’s awards are a great way to try and close a chapter of life in a beautiful way. It’s the moment we sometimes have when time is meaningless, and we forget about our self and live for the sake of living.”
“My category is staff-nominated only, so I didn’t put myself forward for it.”
How does it feel to have won such a prestigious achievement at the University of Hertfordshire?
“It feels surreal: I didn’t think I would win, and I didn’t think I would get any recognition as I had been working and studying, and have been a part of every aspect of the university, but never got recognised as such. It is very humbling, and I am very blessed.”
“I feel honoured that I am one of the first recipients of this award. It also makes me feel appreciated, as this award recognises the achievements I’ve made as a student.”
While it’s no doubt going to be an amazing achievement for anyone, how do you think the award will benefit you particularly?
“I think it’s always nice to have these awards to your name; it does show your ambitious personality and the hard worker in you. I do believe it is an amazing CV booster, and companies do look at the outside activities other than what you have studied.”
“The Dean’s Award is a great salute to the end of the degree, and a great achievement for my CV and profile. I think more importantly, however, it is a good bandage or badge, covering the stress wounds that studying a degree permits. It is a blessing for sure to study a degree and experience the fruits, but it is difficult in many ways mentally and those don’t necessarily get shown.”
“It’s quite an amazing item to mention in a CV! But personally, this award serves as an encouragement to keep up the hard work, even after university.”
Is this a commendation all students should be aiming for?
“100%! Aim for as many awards as you can, but do it for you, and for your personal achievement: the award means nothing if you don’t enjoy doing what you do, and if you don’t feel you are bettering yourself.”
“All students should be aiming for contention and peace of mind. But we all have a unique perspective as people and as Humanities students. If the perspective over the degree has been particularly unique, particularly impressive and inspiring, students should be awarded for that. We all have our own perspective, and the Humanities Dean’s Awards showcases that.”
“I think all students should work for something great. If you do all the things that you know you can do, challenge yourself, and begin to accomplish your own goals, I think winning an award is just the cherry on top of all of the achievements you’ve made already.”