Each year two different students are recognised for going above and beyond the call of duty – one for what they’ve achieved as an Evening Degree student and the other for helping their fellow students.
We asked Zoë Garvie (winner of the Fife Council Provost’s Prize for the Most Outstanding Evening Degree Student 2017) and Emily Bruton (winner of the Frotscher Medal for Helping Hands for Excellence in Supporting Students 2017) to tell us about what inspired and motivated them.
“I started the evening degree in 2010 as a way of testing my academic ability while continuing to work. I’d gained reasonable grades at school but unlike my friends, I didn’t apply to university because I was worried about debt. But I always hankered to learn, and took courses in everything from hypnosis to ballroom dancing.
“It was after I met my husband that I decided to go to university. However, I wanted to find out if it was going to agree with me before I gave up work full-time. The University of St Andrews Evening Degree was the perfect way to test the water.
“It’s been seven years since that first evening and during that time life has changed considerably for me, with one baby boy born in 2012 and another in 2014 – perfectly timed for the summer break! My full-time academic ambitions changed to full-time mum responsibilities but, despite practically no sleep, I still loved my studies.
“I was seduced to study at St Andrews by the Biology modules but there was not a subject or lecturer that didn’t thrill me – from IT to Geography and Geology, and from Physics and Astronomy to Psychology. I even dabbled in Anthropology and Mediaeval Scottish History!
“I have to mention Dr Rona Ramsay. She was a real mentor to me during my level 3 Biology modules and encouraged me to try her Biochemistry bootcamp. I had never before left my children during the day and when she sent me a copy of the module I didn’t understand a word of it. Now the language seems straightforward but I remember vividly when it was unintelligible and terrifying to me. My proudest moment was when I passed that module with distinction.
“It has been an absolute privilege to have come to St Andrews. The calibre and enthusiasm of the teaching is astonishing and my fellow students have been a pleasure and inspiration to meet. There are so many of us who juggle commitments and stay up all hours to fit in the time for assessments, so it is a real honour to be recognised for the effort I’ve put in.”
Zoë was awarded the Prize (which includes £100) in recognition of her academic achievements across all modules taken as part of her BSc General Science Degree. She received the Prize at the Lifelong Learning Graduation Reception on 23 June 2017.
“From the beginning of my time at St Andrews, I have met and tried to help students who didn’t find the transition to university life easy, or who found pre-existing difficulties harder to cope with without the familiarity of home and the support of family. This led to me being nicknamed ‘Mumma Melville’ in the halls of residence where I had earned a reputation for offering support and for giving good hugs (or so I am told).
“I suggested to the Senior Student at the time that there should be an official ‘Mumma Melville’ position in all halls of residence. Andrew Melville Hall was the first to implement this suggestion and I was voted in as Hall Welfare Rep on the Hall executive committee. This increased to two Welfare Reps the following year.
“The main role of the Welfare Rep is to act as a first point of contact for students who are struggling, and to act as a bridge between the Hall and the many services provided by the University. We have tried to do this by holding tea and cake events, for example, to raise awareness of student welfare groups such as Student Minds and Populus, and to encourage students to feel as if they matter to the University.
“As someone who has seen the early hours of the morning in many different – and sometimes overwhelming – circumstances while trying to help others, the role of Welfare Rep is therefore close to my heart.
“In a sense, the Award has given me encouragement and has shown me that the help I have given does matter – even if at the time I felt frustrated at not being able to do more, or to do better. It is symbolic of the importance of kindness and generosity and is a keen reminder of the people I have helped in the past, the people I hope to help in the future and the many wonderful people who have helped me when I needed it.”
A little consideration, a little thought for others makes all the difference.
– A A Milne
Emily was awarded the Frotscher Medal by the Proctor, Professor Lorna Milne at a ceremony on 16 May 2017.