Keele University Student of the Year


Posted on 17 June 2010

Keele University is delighted to announce that the 2010 winner of the prestigious Neil and Gina Smith Student of the Year Award is Darrell Simkins, a 23-year old student in Music and Educational Studies.

Darrell has performed exceptionally well academically, achieving firsts in every module studied.  He was accepted to present his dissertation 'Inside and Outside ‘The Campus Bubble’: A comparative research project of study abroad programmes at Keele University and The University of Leeds' at the International Conference of Education in Canada, a sign of the very high standard of scholarship and research skills Darrell has attained through his studies at Keele.

In common with many Keele students Darrell took the opportunity to pursue part of his studies in a partner University, in his case in Toronto, Canada, in the Faculty of Fine Arts at York University.  In recognition of his academic excellence, Darrell was awarded the Royal Doulton scholarship to support his study abroad experience.

Darrell’s study abroad experience was more unusual than most; whilst at York University the staff undertook strike action and classes were cancelled. His response was to complete his academic work unsupervised and organise activities for fellow students, including a community choir.  In addition, he took part in other musical performances, including singing with the acclaimed Nathaniel Dett Chorale for a CBC recording.
Building upon his experience overseas, Darrell now works as a Study Abroad Peer Adviser for Keele, promoting studying abroad to others and acting as an ambassador for the University.
Throughout his time at Keele Darrell has participated in extracurricular music programmes, both on and off campus, and made a significant contribution to musical life at Keele and in the local community.

In recognition of his skills and commitment to music he received a Conducting Scholarship to direct a children's choir in the local community at St. Johns School. He currently works as Musical Director for the nearby Woore Choir. Darrell also undertakes a number of volunteer activities, these include running a workshop on Music Education at a local primary school and organising a celebration of 'Canada Day' - a cultural immersion day at a Walsall Secondary School.  Darrell also works with the Keelelink programme to raise aspirations among local students by delivering science lessons in a local secondary school. This experience is greatly enhanced by his three years in Education Studies at Keele.
In June 2010, Darrell was invited to conduct the Keele Bach Choir, Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, a considerable honour for an undergraduate student.

Darrell impressed the interview panel with his academic achievements, his musical talent, and his determination to take advantage of every available opportunity to enhance both his own time at Keele and the life of the local and University communities.