Three years in Keele, and I can honestly say they flew by like winter days. Following my graduation in July of 2018, I got an email from the Global Undergraduate Awards regarding my final year undergraduate thesis; informing me that I had progressed to the next stage of the Award. Fast-forward a few months later; I was invited to the Global conference in Dublin in an email stating that I had also won the ‘Highly Commended’ Award for my category (Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences) and that my work is eligible for publication in the 2019 UA library. This was incredible news to me, as I did not even think I would make it past the first stage due to the record submission of almost 5000 in 2018. I was even more honoured after finding out that I was the only undergraduate student from Keele whose paper had ever be highly placed in Global Undergraduate Awards since its inception.
Prior to this however, I had engaged myself in going for conference during my undergraduate degree, and it all came full circle when I saw my name on the UA website as a Highly Commended winner. Leading up to the UA, during my degree in Keele, I was first exposed to academic publications and conferences in my second year when a module I was offered required me to go for a conference in Liverpool (ELRIG 2016). I found it rather useful and that led me to looking for undergraduate opportunities where I could attend these sort of conferences. I came across Keele’s undergraduate journal – the Journal of Academic Development and Education (JADE). I would later present three times and get published twice over two years (2017 and 2018) in the subsequent JADE conferences and journal issues. I also attended and presented at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research (BCUR18), in April of 2018 at Sheffield. BCUR was a national conference I was exposed to after my first JADE conference in 2017. I was the only undergraduate representative from Keele University that year; and after the 2-day conference, it was announced that undergraduate students are encouraged to submit their researches to The Global Undergraduate Awards. This spurred me to handing in my thesis to The Global Undergraduate Award upon graduation and the rest as they say was history. During these conferences, I attended multiple presentations from undergraduate students like myself, and it was a phenomenal experience knowing that there were like-minded students out there making waves.
I am currently undertaking further studies and these accomplishments were pivotal in my admission to my current program. There are many undergraduate research opportunities out there and I advise that Keele students grab them with both hands. JADE was useful and it played a big role in me submitting my work to the UA. I also urge you to develop a culture of going for conferences individually as well as in groups. This will give you a better-rounded student experience during the course of your degree, and you would have some accomplishments to be proud of after your degree. Undergraduate research conferences would also expand your professional network and could improve your presentation techniques as you get to listen to other undergraduate students from various backgrounds present their researches.
A massive thanks to Dr. Christopher Little whose initial push made me present my first work at the 2017 JADE conference; and my sincere gratitude to my ever-so patient supervisor Dr. David Mottershead whose guidance made me conscientious in the lab and detailed in my writing during my project. The Global Undergraduate Awards is essentially a major milestone for any undergraduate student and I have no doubt in my mind that an ambitious student from Keele can win the Global Award in its entirety.