Announcing the winner of our Student of the Year award

We are delighted to announce that medical student Jenna Volpert has won our prestigious Student of the Year award for 2020/21.

The Neil and Gina Smith Student of the Year Award was open to all undergraduate final year students at Keele and includes a cash prize of £5,000 to recognise the winning student’s outstanding achievements during their time at Keele.

Jenna’s success recognises her consistent academic efforts, which included a quality improvement project that received first prize from the Royal College of GPs, and contributed to a change in GP practice to benefit patients post-operatively.

Jenna said: “I am humbled to receive this award - it is completely surreal! I am honoured just to be connected with the other shortlisted candidates - all are inspirational, and all have made major contributions to our university. I know this award goes far beyond what I have done and belongs equally to the wonderful people I have had the real pleasure of working alongside for the last five years at Keele.”

As a medical student Jenna was one of the many Keele students that stepped up to help the NHS frontline response to the Covid-19 pandemic. She said: “As placements resumed, we had to swiftly move from being medical students trying to stay out the way, to active working members of the multi-disciplinary team. In many ways we were welcomed with (socially distant) open arms.

“As a student I could often spend a little longer with patients whose family couldn’t be with them, and these moments definitely eased the challenging times. The ever-evolving nature of the pandemic meant sometimes questions from the ward round, quite simply, could not be answered. However, I got to witness and learn first-hand how honesty and transparency are often the most reliable tools we have.”

As well as her academic success, Jenna has exceeded in her extracurricular activities as well, representing both Keele Women’s and the English Universities hockey team, with support from Keele’s Talented Athlete Programme. She has also pursued her passion for promoting equality, in roles such as President of ‘Students for Global Health’, founder of ‘Women in Surgery Keele’ and as a student ambassador on the Medical School Exclusivity Committee.

She also encouraged all students to get involved and throw themselves into university life, adding: “University is a time to really stretch out, see what you enjoy and find what matters to you – you may even stumble across something you would have never thought about. Be open minded with your hopes and ambitions, but, at the same time, don’t be afraid to change your goals over time. Ultimately it is the people that make it all worthwhile so make the most of the time you have to make life-long friends.”