Keele University Student of the Year 2014

Posted on 03 July 2014

The Keele University Neil and Gina Smith Student of the Year 2014 is Nicola Edwards.

From an exceptionally strong pool of candidates, the awarding panel decided that Nicola should be the recipient of the 2014 Neil and Gina Smith Student of the Year Award. 

Nicola graduates from Keele with a First Class Honours Degree in Criminology and Sociology.  She has been accepted onto the Masters in Criminology and Criminal Justice at Keele.

Nicola was nominated for this award by the School of Criminology and Sociology. She is described by her Head of School, Professor Bill Dixon, as an “exceptionally able student” who has made a “unique contribution to Keele and the wider community”.

Having left education at 16 and worked in a succession of low paid jobs, Nicola made a decision to turn her life around.  She came to Keele via an access course, which she completed at the same time as carrying out voluntary work in her local area.

Whilst at Keele, in addition to attaining exceptionally high marks for her academic work and attaining three school prizes in her first two years as an undergraduate, Nicola has been instrumental in establishing both a Criminology and a Sociology Society and she is a prominent member of the Women’s Society, which was nominated for a Most Improved Society award in the Students’ Union awards this year.  Nicola’s involvement in these societies has ensured that they have been active and have provided positive experiences for their members with an ethos based in community involvement, establishing foodbank collections and raising money for Women’s Aid. In addition, Nicola has been a course representative, providing representation and advocacy for her colleagues at university level in relation to their academic studies.

Nicola has shown an interest in social enterprise and applied, with other students, for funding for one of their ideas. They were ultimately unsuccessful, however she has recently applied for, and been awarded, a Santander Student Fellowship of £5,000 to study street art in Chile later this summer.

The interview panel members were extremely impressed with the warmth and passion with which Nicola spoke about her journey into higher education, her academic subjects and about her enthusiasm for volunteering and her future plans either in academia or in community-based work, enthusing and facilitating others to reach their potential. Nicola’s achievements seem even more impressive when taking into consideration that she has four children and came to Keele a single mother.

She will receive her award during the University's summer graduation ceremonies. Second prize was awarded to Ronald Lim, Music and Music Technology, for excellent performance in his interview and application.