Two students from The University of Nottingham have been recognised at the Brightside e-Mentoring Awards, for their work in helping young people to overcome barriers to higher education.
Student Mentor of the Year Award winner Natalie Yeung and finalist Holly Threlfall were shortlisted after working with the Widening Participation Team to deliver the University’s summer school programme.
Having previously experienced the benefits of the programme themselves, Holly and Natalie have both worked tirelessly to help other young people overcome the challenges faced when looking to advance their education.
After obtaining a place at the University’s School of Law, Natalie Yeung has helped a number of students who, like her, come from families with no history of higher education.
Natalie said: “I had no idea what to expect from university. I didn’t know all the little things — like what I should take and what I should expect from Fresher’s Week — the kind of information you can’t get from prospectuses.”
She’s also helped her mentees with more course-specific questions about module choices and personal statements. After picking up her award, Natalie continued: “Getting the news that they’ve got into the university of their choice is always really nice because you feel like a real team and that all your hard work has paid off.”
A deserving finalist
Like Natalie, neither of Holly’s parents went to university, so after benefiting from the first-hand advice gained through the summer school programme, she was also keen to pass on the advice she had been given before undertaking a degree in Law with Australian Law.
She explained: “It’s so rewarding to see someone’s confidence grow.” That was particularly the case when she was matched with a mentee with Asperger’s syndrome who wanted to study veterinary medicine. “She had many more worries than other students so we looked at all the options available to her and worked together to make her realise that she could do it.”
While helping others enter higher education, both Natalie and Holly have gone on to advance their own education by undertaking legal practice courses at Nottingham Trent University.
After the awards, Academic Enrichment Programmes Officer Laura Bruce, explained that the advice provided by current students can be invaluable to those unsure whether to continue their education and welcomed the recognition received by both women.
She said: “There is a bewildering array of information and numerous processes to go through for young people wanting to go on to higher education today. This is particularly so for young people from underrepresented backgrounds, who often struggle to find sources of advice and support.
“Discussing the transition to higher education with students who have been through the process themselves removes some of these barriers to progression and the students gain a greater insight into university life and the support available. Mentors provide advice from what to bring to university, what to expect from academic lectures to the support packages that are available to students through the University’s bursary scheme and wider support programmes.”
Laura continued: “We are delighted that the hard-work and dedication shown by two of our fantastic mentors, Natalie and Holly has been recognised by the Brightside Trust. They have worked tirelessly over the last three years helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds realise that university is both accessible and achievable. We are immensely proud of the achievements of both girls and are thrilled that Natalie was named Brightside Student Mentor of the Year.”
For more information about summer schools, and their follow-up support programmes, master classes, campus visits and personal development sessions, please visit the University’s widening participation website. Or find out more about the Brightside e-Mentoring Awards at: http://www.thebrightsidetrust.org/
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It was ‘one of the first to embrace a truly international approach to higher education’, according to the Sunday Times University Guide 2013. It is also one of the most popular universities among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong and the QS World Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its research into global food security.
Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fundraising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…