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WELS Student Awards 2023 – meet the winners

Text reads WELS Student Awards 2023, overlaid on an image of three different shaped start trophies.

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 seventeen talented students received awards in two categories, in a recent virtual ceremony.

Dr Claire Saunders, WELS Associate Dean - Students and Teaching, said:
"One of the greatest privileges of my job is hearing the stories of our students. As an Associate Lecturer in the past, those stories often unfolded in tutorials, telephone conversations and emails. Now it is at Graduation ceremonies, the conversations I have with students, and through events like these awards. I’ve had the joy of reading all the nominations and I’m proud of every single one of them!"

The Going the Extra Mile Award recognises the invaluable contributions of Open University students who support others in helping them to succeed to the best of their abilities. The successful student will have gone the extra mile to act as a positive role model for potential and/or current students, raising their aspirations and giving them vital insight into studying at the OU.

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.

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

Going the Extra Mile Award

The 2023 Going the Extra Mile Award winners are:

Dawn - Level 2 student (School of Education, Childhood, Youth and Sport - ECYS)
Dawn was nominated for her resilience and compassion. She proactively participated in the module Discord group, supporting her peers to keep going with their studies and maintaining a positive atmosphere.

Natalie - Level 3 student (ECYS)
Natalie’s tutor said: “Natalie contributed so much to the Tutor Group Forum to help her fellow students. She is an inspiration and very humble and deserves an accolade from the university she loves and supports.”

Elaine - Level 3 student (ECYS)
Elaine’s tutor said: “Elaine helped her e-group achieve…she dedicated more time and effort than required to support each member through modelling, communicating, reassuring, providing links to resources and giving feedback.”

Cara - Level 1 student (School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care - HWSC)
Cara was instrumental in working in partnership with other apprentices. Her nomination described how she set up a WhatsApp peer support process additional face-to-face peer study groups.

Tracey - Postgraduate student (HWSC)
Tracey’s tutor said: “Tracey listened with empathy to another student who was feeling overwhelmed. Tracey shared her own experience and set up a buddy system to support the student.”

Valentina - Level 3 student (School of Languages and Applied Linguistics - LAL)
As a peer mentor Valentina provided ongoing one-to-one support to young students who are new to OU study. She inspired fellow mentors and helped to build their confidence by sharing her expertise and experience.

Student Inspirational Achievement Award

The 2023 WELS Student Inspirational Achievement Award winners are:

Jason - Level 3 student (LAL)
Jason’s tutor said: “Jason’s resilience and motivation as a learner is admirable. Jason overcame environmental challenges that significantly limited his ability to engage with study in the way teaching and assessment on a languages programme has been designed. Despite this, along with health-related challenges, Jason still went on to achieve fantastic results.”

Helen - Level 1 student (HWSC)
Helen’s tutor said: “Helen’s determination in achieving her goals has been strong and her battle with her own health issues has not kept her back. She is an inspiration to us all.”

Jessey - Level 1 student (HWSC)
Jessey’s tutor said: “Despite going through a difficult time Jessey has still worked hard to achieve in her final placement. Not many students would have pushed through and carried on as Jessey has and with such dedication and professionalism.”

Jo - Level 2 student (HWSC)
Jo’s tutor said: “Alongside her studies and placement activities, Jo has continued to be a kind, patient-centred, knowledgeable nursing student who is committed to always delivering excellent care for her patients, despite all that she has had to contend with.”

Rachael - Level 2 student (HWSC)
Rachael’s tutor said: “Rachael has been an outstanding ambassador and inspiration for students with mental health difficulties. She gave 100% to her studies even during her own difficult times, always honest and determined to learn.”

Abbey - Level 3 student (HWSC)
Abbey set up an anxiety management group in the community mental health team. She sourced a venue, co-wrote material with her supervisor, identified patients and delivered the group. She used outcome measures and has evidenced a decrease in anxiety symptoms from the patients who attended the group.

Angela - Level 3 student (HWSC)
Since December 2020, Angela has experienced ongoing medical treatment, but kept herself motivated through her determination to complete her degree.

Jennifer - Level 3 student (HWSC)
Jenny’s significant health challenges did not deter her from achieving her ambition. She demonstrated great resilience, determination and drive to overcome this huge challenge and achieve her aspiration.

Kim - Level 3 student (HWSC)
Kim experienced considerable setbacks during her studies but kept studying. Her tutor said: “even with so many obstacles she has done well and I get the sense that proving to herself that she can do it is the biggest achievement she will get from studying this module.”

Leia - Level 3 student (HWSC)
Through the significant health challenges impacting on her studies, Leia was determined to complete her degree and become a qualified social worker. Qualifying on time was important to her.

Tracy - Level 3 student (HWSC)
As a mature student, having significant caring responsibilities as both a parent and carer, Tracy has excelled in her module work. In her own words “the kid brought up on the dole did okay”’.

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