By Megan Evans, News Editor
Students who have made significant contributions to extracurricular activities have been awarded with the highly-respected Outstanding Award this year.
The University of Bristol’s Outstanding Award is awarded to recipients of the Bristol PLUS Award, the university’s employability award, and celebrates students who have made a significant contribution to an extracurricular activity.
This year, 22 Bristol students achieved this award, seven with distinction.
Run by the Bristol Careers Service, the Outstanding Award mimics a job application in its rigorous application process and challenging panel interview.
Here are just some of the student achievements that merited an Award this year:
Bless Cogonon: Biomedical Sciences
Bless is President of the Make a Smile Bristol committee, a charity focused on supporting the wellbeing of children with disabilities, illness, and developmental delays. Volunteers dress up as children’s characters to raise the spirits of disadvantaged children.
Bless was responsible for affiliating MaS Bristol with the SU, partnering with Bristol Royal Infirmary and a local autism spectrum disorder specialist school, as well as adapting these services for online use during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bless established the volunteering programme online and was able to organise virtual activities with children’s favourite characters, focusing particularly on accessibility by, for example, providing recordings of videos in Makaton.
On her motivation for this, Bless explained: ‘I have a 6-year old brother who didn't get to see his friends and missed out on a piece of his childhood during the lockdown.
‘Watching him made me think about all the other kids who were spending lockdown alone and without access to the activities that would enhance their physical and emotional wellbeing through play.
‘I really wanted to do something that would bring some joy to children's days.’
She is most proud of being ‘resilient and adaptable’ during the pandemic, and plans to one day work as a paediatric healthcare provider for the NHS to ‘continue helping children and hopefully bring smiles to their days.’
Elena Fillola Mayoral: Engineering Mathematics
Elena created the workshop ‘You Could Be the Next Engineer’ for year 6 pupils from local schools. Elena’s primary focus was on reducing the gender self-confidence gap in young children. Her workshop succeeded in eliminating the gender confidence gap in Engineering skills amongst the pupils she worked with.
She has also contributed to a children's book about Engineering (10001 Amigas Ingenieras) and has co-authored a research paper showing that female pupils are less confident about Maths exams than their male peers.
On her motivation for creating the workshop, Elena explained: ‘Young people have poorly formulated views of what Engineering jobs entail as well as a lack of role models. Engineering is associated with competitiveness and individualism, traits often seen as male.
‘These and other factors lead to significant gender differences: only 12.4% of all engineers in the UK are women and less than 25% of students in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Bristol are female.
'With UK having an enormous demand for engineers, it is important to engage as many people as possible, in particular girls that might reject Engineering as a career path from early on in their studies.
‘I wanted to devise a workshop that presented Engineering as an accessible, creative field with a positive impact in society.’
Elena plans to continue her studies as a postgrad, and gain more funding to expand her Engineering workshops.
Freya Mutimer: Anthropology
Freya has co-founded the Sanctuary Scholar legal fund, providing financial aid to students from refugee and asylum seeking backgrounds who are unable to qualify for legal aid.
Freya and her team were able to provide over £6000 of legal aid to Bristol sanctuary scholars, and have also raised awareness about the impacts of study bans in the Hostile Environment on campus.
On her motivation for this action, she explained that ‘Sanctuary Scholars are valuable members of our university community. I wanted to help ensure that they have the opportunity and support to thrive at the University of Bristol
‘[…] As a committee member of Student Action for Refugees, supporting the Sanctuary Scholars was already a key focus of mine and through this activity I was able to further this work.’
Freya is ‘most proud of our team that worked tirelessly to fundraise to provide financial aid, and that our project was able to directly help current students.’
Freya plans to graduate and study law, become a qualified immigration solicitor to ‘continue [her] work against the Hostile Environment.’
Obafemi Alabi: Mechanical and Electrical Engineering
Obafemi co-founded and was the Chief Operating Officer for football league company MOB Football, tackling the problem of racism and representation within football.
He organised events in collaboration with Bristol SU and BME Network for black history month, and engaged over ten cultural/religious societies within the last two years to participate in the league.
On his motivation, Obafemi explained: ‘The motivation behind starting MOB Football was a mixture between necessity and a desire to see diversity and multi-ethnic socialisation between students at university through sport.
‘As the sports representative of the African Caribbean Society in my second year of university, I was in a situation where the university-provided football service was not well received by members of the society due to the quality of service and price concerns.
‘Therefore, through discussions with the Sports Representative of the East African Society, we decided to create a league between university societies that uses football as a tool to break down inter-cultural socialisation barriers set by society.’
Obafemi will begin the position of Sports and Student Development Officer at Bristol SU in June 2021, and plans to ‘use a bigger platform to continue to use sport as a tool to unite people and break down inter-cultural socialisation barriers set by society.’
Sadie Karia: Dental Surgery
Sadie pioneered the first ‘It's Ok to Fail’ Wellbeing Week, and organised the first ‘Welfare Fair,’ providing students and staff with access to mental health support and creating a space for open discussions about mental health.
As The Welfare Representative for University of Bristol Dental School Society (UBDSS), Sadie’s focus was on raising awareness about Mental Health and Wellbeing for members of the Bristol Dental School.
Her main motivation was to ‘use [her] past experience to help others going through similar in the future,’ and help staff and students ‘feel better understood and supported by the School.’
Sadie is ‘most proud of the fact that the foundations I laid as the Welfare Representative […] have been built upon by subsequent Welfare Representatives which has lead to long-lasting positive change within the Dental School.’
She plans to graduate this summer and begin Dental Foundation Training, with the goal of eventually opening her own dental practice.
Featured Image: University of Bristol | Epigram / Canva
Are you interested in aiming for the University of Bristol's Outstanding Award? More information HERE.