Star students awarded Outstanding Student of the Year 2020

Thu 04 June, 2020
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A record number of staff and students nominated colleagues, peers and teams the University of Bedfordshire’s Vice Chancellor’s Student Experience Awards, with four winners receiving the Outstanding Student of the Year award.

A student from each of the University’s faculties took home the sought-after award which required evidence of demonstrable qualities and actions, including inspiring others, engaging with their studies and demonstrating a compelling overall learning experience.

Outstanding Student of the Year1) The student embodies the University's Behaviours in their actions. The student has inspired, motivated and influenced others.

2) The student's 'story' provides a compelling demonstration of the transformational impact of a University of Bedfordshire education. The student has led by setting an excellent example.

3) The student has demonstrated good engagement and performance within the context of their studies. The student has reflected, analysed and learnt from their experiences.

Usually taking place on campus with a black tie ceremony and glasses of fizz, this year’s nominees were encouraged to celebrate virtually with their families and friends.

Each of the winners received a congratulatory personalised email from Interim Vice Chancellor, Professor Rebecca Bunting, and a certificate and trophy were sent to them in the post to proudly display at home.

This year’s winners boast a variety of course subjects from across the University, including Philosophy, Education, Digital Marketing and Child Nursing.

Priyanka Verma – PhD Doctor of Philosophy at RIMAP (Research Institute for Media, Art and Performance)

Priyanka’s peers and tutors have said how diligent and inspirational she is – “She is a force to be reckoned with.” They’ve said she inspires students by organising conferences and events, and motivates others to engage and improve. Priyanka has been an advocate for PhD and research students and pushes her peers to achieve their own personal and academic successes.

After university, Priyanka aspires to work as a researcher and establish her career in academia. Hers research interests include female representation in Bollywood, looking at Intersectionality, women authorship, identity politics, post-colonial theories, audience studies and social cognitive theories. She also hopes to continue advocating for women's rights and equality.

Priyanka said: “I am extremely honoured to be receiving such an important award. Winning this award would not have been possible without the inspiration I have received from my seniors and my peers, for whom I have the deepest respect, and from whom I have derived the strength to challenge myself and perform better at each stage. 

“I would like to make a special mention of my mentors Dr. Agnieszka Piotrowska and Professor Alexis Weedon, for helping me to reach a stage where I can proudly hold up this award as a mark of my achievement.  Everyone needs such mentors in life – I am lucky to have found mine.”

Rozanna ‘Rozey’ PiddingtonEducation Studies BA (Hons)

Rozey’s tutors and peers have highlighted how she inspires, supports and encourages so many of her fellow students. She leads by example and is a role model to others, taking on roles such as a Student Representative, Student Ambassador, PAL Leader, Student Voice Champion and JISC student liaison. She has managed to balance all of these roles with her university work and family life.

From September 2020, Rozey will be doing Applied Psychology (Conversion) MSc and has also been elected as President of the University’s new History Society which she’s looking forward to getting up and running.

Commenting on her award, Rozey said: “Winning was a privilege and an honour! As a parent to three young children (one of whom has identified needs), juggling university work is certainly a challenge, and I often throw myself into more work and additional roles.

“I enjoy supporting and helping fellow students and the community – it’s really important to me. Being recognised for the work I do, I now feel truly deserving and honoured to have received the award – particularly as I continue to have struggles within my personal life and my mental health.

“This win really has made me feel valued as a student. I am so thankful.”

Szymon KielkuckiDigital Marketing MSc

Szymon’s peers and tutors have said how he’s always positive, friendly and willing to help and that he embodies the University’s values. He continues to set an excellent example to students, engaging in many different activities, including PAL, alongside his studies. He has returned to the NSS Ambassador role, supervising new recruits who say he inspires them and makes the role fun.

Senior Lecturers Dr Annie Danbury and Dr Markus Haag said: “Szymon is truly an outstanding student. He has stood out in this current block unit which is being taught in a virtual environment and he has clearly undertaken the preparation that is required. His contributions to our virtual sessions prove that he has also done his own independent research and this has added value to the sessions and engaged other fellow students to achieve a high level of co-creation of learning on the unit. 

“It is a delight to have Szymon as a co-creator on the MSc Digital Marketing course. Szymon has been discussing (long in advance of the actual start of his capstone live project) his idea in relation to action research regarding digital marketing strategy in his home town in Poland. This demonstrates his outstanding commitment to this project and we wish him well in his exciting work on this.”

Claire Afford – Healthcare Practice (Child Nurse) BSc

In spite of personal adversity Claire embodies the University values excellence and has been an outstanding student throughout the course. She is supportive and encouraging to fellow students - a model UoB Ambassador. Her experience allows her to empathise with children and families in similar situations.

While the Covid 19 pandemic has made the end of her degree process ‘somewhat unusual’, Claire is due to qualify in September 2020. After that, Claire has been offered a job as a paediatric staff nurse at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital which she’s really looking forward to.

Claire said: “It's hard to explain just what this award means to me. My degree journey has been tough – my son became unwell during the second year of my course which resulted in me needing to take a year out.

“This interruption of my studies made me wonder if I would ever return to university, so to dig deep, come back and then to find out that I'd won this award was actually quite emotional. I'm incredibly proud of myself and really thankful to those who nominated me.”

About Claire's award win, Senior Lecturer Bernadette Henderson said: “As a Child Nurse Student, Claire approaches every aspect of her academic and practice responsibilities with positivity, managing complexity with sensitivity and prowess.  Claire’s extra-ordinarily approachable ‘can-do’ attitude underpins her as an outstanding Student Child Nurse Ambassador.”

To read the full list of winners and to find out more about the awards, visit:


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