University of Bedfordshire graduations continue at Putteridge Bury

Hundreds of University of Bedfordshire students stepped out in style as graduation ceremonies began in Luton this week.

Students from the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences were presented with awards at the Putteridge Bury campus in front of delighted family and friends.

Among those getting awards were two PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) students who graduated from the University’s Institute for Health Research (IHR).

Vasiliki Tzouvara is graduating after completing a unique study into loneliness and self-stigma among older people with mental health problems in care homes.

Vasiliki found that nearly 70 per cent of the population suffered from loneliness while a large minority (43.8 per cent) of them scored highly on the self-stigma scale. She also found that they experience emotional and social loneliness, while holding negative attitude towards older adults with mental health problems.

Originally from Greece, she said: I’ve had a fantastic time and I am very grateful for all the excellent support I have received, particularly from my supervisors Dr Chris Papadopoulos and Professor Gurch Randhawa. We have an ageing population in the UK. Mental health issues and loneliness are an increasing problem among them. However, our knowledge is limited which is why I chose to look in to it for my PhD.”

Vasiliki has had several articles published about her research and is now looking forward to starting a new job as a lecturer at Kings College London.

Graduates Ghadah Alfaqeeh and Vasiliki Tzouvara

Fellow postgraduate Ghadah Alfaqeeh, from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), is also celebrating her achievements. She was sponsored by the Ministry of Health in the KSA and her research is the first ever study in the Middle East to examine access to primary care in urban and rural areas.

Supervised by the University’s Dr Nasreen Ali and Professor Randhawa, Ghadah is the first ever KSA Ministry of Health employee to have undertaken her PhD with the University.

She said: “I am proud to have carried out the largest ever primary care study in the whole of the Middle East. This wouldn't have been possible without the expert advice from my supervisory team. I hope to continue working with them when I return to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to implement my research findings and publish my PhD in leading academic journals.”

Professor of Diversity in Public Health and Director of the IHR, Gurch Randhawa said: “Both students are an inspiration and we are very proud of their achievements which are thoroughly deserved.

“Vasiliki’s research in to loneliness is very topical and increases awareness of what is a growing problem among our elderly population. Ghadah’s work provides a blueprint for developing equitable urban and rural primary care in KSA and for other Middle Eastern countries. We wish them well as they take their careers forward.”

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