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WELS Student Awards 2022: Meet the winners

Three glass star trophies are pictured on an aqua background. The text overlaid says: WELS Student Awards 2022

Every year, the OU’s Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS) recognises students for their achievements through the WELS Student Awards. This year another nine* talented students received awards in two categories, in a recent virtual ceremony.

The Student Inspirational Achievement Award recognises WELS students who have achieved a significant career milestone, overcoming challenges or barriers to succeed in realising their aspiration.

The Student Mentor/Ambassador/Buddy of the Year Award recognises the invaluable work of WELS students who support others in a formal role as mentor, ambassador or buddy. The winners of this award have gone the extra mile to act as a positive role model for other students.

Each award is particularly notable, as students must be nominated by their tutors to be eligible.

Mychelle Pride, WELS Associate Dean for Teaching Excellence said:

"Personally, I have found most of our students to be inspirational and we are so fortunate to have so many fantastic students. Every time I meet a WELS student and hear their story, I am blown away. It is also wonderful to hear how our students go out of their way to support one another. It can be very tricky to feel part of something, to have an identity, when you are studying at a distance. This year’s WELS Award Winners have all in one way or another supported their fellow students and helped build a better study community."

Student Inspirational Achievement Award

The 2022 WELS Student Inspirational Achievement Award winners are:

Jamila – Level 3 student (School of Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport – ECYS)

Despite dealing with her child’s ongoing medical needs, setting up a new home and managing her own health, Jamila continued to work hard and has achieved amazing results in her studies. She takes onboard everything, always aiming to improve.

Jamila’s tutor, Elaine Hall, said: "Jamila has inspired me to keep going; she always asks how I am. I know that seems insignificant, but it shows she understands we Tutors are human, with needs of our own. She is so open about her culture and has explained things to me that I didn’t understand, teaching me to be a more tolerant person. She never makes her ‘hurdles’ an excuse; I think they have made not only her stronger but have also taught me a few things about resilience."

Jamila added: “I hope that my actions teach my son and others that our circumstances do not define us. The only barriers we face are the ones we allow.”

Kate – Level 3 Nursing student (School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care – HWSC)

Kate has consistently demonstrated phenomenal determination and commitment to her studies, despite her personal circumstances and poor mental and physical health. Following an extremely challenging break up, Kate has juggled working in the NHS with studying, home schooling, lone parenting and supporting a close family member diagnosed with cancer. Long Covid has significantly affected her physical and mental health, yet her devotion to her children and dedication to her studies is unfaltering.

Kate’s tutor, Eleanor Calderwood, said: “I am proud that I am supporting Kate to achieve an outcome that will positively impact her own health and wellbeing, and increase her feelings of self-worth, as well as positively impacting her young family. Her determination and selflessness will be an asset to the nursing profession.”

Student Mentor Award

The 2022 Student Mentor Award winners are:

Charon – Postgraduate student (ECYS)

Charon is the driving force behind a team of peer mentors. She leads the development of other peer mentors as well as supporting students. Charon is a carer and has a declared disability; she role models how these personal circumstances neither hinder her ability to study nor her support for others.

Charon’s tutors, Helen Hendry and Alison Fox, said: “Charon has made her voice heard so that others from disadvantaged backgrounds, or potentially at greater risk of not achieving positive outcomes, are supported.”

Jennifer – Level 2 student (ECYS)

Jennifer has been a positive role model for all students in her group, but in particular providing specific, targeted support and encouragement to one student for whom English is a second language, in addition to the support provided by the student’s tutor. The support and encouragement that Jennifer provided to others clearly demonstrates how distance learning can be successful.

Jennifer said: “Whilst studying with the OU, I've found many people who are incredibly supportive, so having my actions recognised by my tutor was very unexpected and a true honour. I was completely overjoyed to know that my actions had helped others. I hope I can continue to find ways to do so in the future.”

Jo-Anne – Level 3 student (ECYS)

Jo-Anne is a proactive student who often started conversations, led discussions in the forums and encouraged student engagement. Her collaborative attitude and generous peer support were instrumental to helping another student at risk of academic failure.

Jo-Anne said: “I joined the OU Family at a Level 3 after a 15-year study break and I found myself extremely worried about my studies. As a Student Mentor, I’ve been able to guide fellow students who found themselves in a similar position to me and being there for them inspired me to do my best. Winning this award has given me the confidence to pursue my dream of becoming a teacher and applying for my PGCE. It has shown me that dreams can be reached, no matter how distant they seem!”

Nichola, Kitty, Yasmin and Natalie – ECYS students

Nichola, Kitty, Yasmin and Natalie are active and reliable members of the ECYS Student Voice and Wellbeing group. They are strong advocates for student voice, providing peer support to each other and students studying on their programmes. They have demonstrated leadership and effective collaboration to promote positive wellbeing support for ECYS students.

Natalie said: “I feel humbled to know that what our group has done has been recognised and celebrated. I honestly had no idea that such awards existed. It is so lovely that students can celebrate good work together. I really feel I should be giving all of you an award for letting me be a part of this!”

Yasmin added: “Ultimately without us working together we would not have won this award. It shows that our passion to make a difference for other students truly has, and hopefully will, make a difference for many years to come. Studying with OU has been far more than me just working towards getting a degree; all the people I'm involved with have become a team who support each other no matter what, through the highs and lows- and not only study but personal lives too.”

The WELS Student Award winners were announced in a virtual ceremony, where the winners of the WELS Tutor and Teaching Excellence Awards were also announced.

We’ll be sharing more about our 2022 Student Award winners’ over the coming months, keep an eye on our social media pages or check back here.

*Please note, only those winners who have agreed to publicity are featured in this story.

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