Emma commended at Westminster for widening access in education

Emma Smith PhD student receives NEON award for widening access

LJMU PhD student and member of the Student Recruitment and Admissions team Emma Smith has received a commendation for her contribution to widening access at a national awards ceremony held in the Palace of Westminster.

NEON (National Education Opportunities Network) is the professional body championing good practice in widening access work and the annual awards ceremony celebrates outstanding achievements by individuals and Higher Education teams.  A PhD student in the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Emma was commended as part of the highly competitive Student of the Year Award for her contribution over the years to outreach initiatives with school pupils.   In addition to working in a part time capacity in the outreach team within SR&A, Emma has managed to raise aspirations of countless young people from non-traditional Higher Education backgrounds as part of her active role as a student advocate since beginning her undergraduate studies. This work has continued through to her recently setting up an outreach project (WiSTEM) engaging young women in STEM subjects as part of the Merseyside Network for Collaborative Outreach.

Speaking about her commendation, Emma said: ““It really is an honour to receive such a commendation, and it is a testament to LJMU as a whole.  I was incredibly supported here up on my return to education, and the opportunities that I’ve been given to be able to continue my studies while sharing my passion for science, equality, and the environment are helping me to carve a very interesting and satisfying career path for myself.  

“The Women in STEM project really feels like a culmination of my experience as a student advocate and public engagement enthusiast so far, and is a great opportunity to tackle some of the barriers that women in more developed countries still face, even today.  However, it really is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of removing the barriers that people from many walks of life face when wanting to better their education – there is a lot to be done!”

LJMU’s Outreach Manager Peter Dolan, who nominated Emma for this award, commented: “This is an extremely proud day for the University and for Emma specifically. As an undergraduate Emma returned to education after a number of years not studying and from day one has shown endless enthusiasm to communicate to young people with little previous knowledge or family history of Higher Education the opportunities a university education can provide. Emma’s passion for her subject is infectious and being from a widening participation background herself, her input into LJMU’s outreach with schools and colleges has been invaluable in supporting access.  This recognition is well deserved.”

Emma received her commendation from MP for Blackpool South and Shadow Minister for Education Gordon Marsden, and was accompanied to the ceremony by Peter Dolan (LJMU Outreach Manager) and Kostas Kiriakoulakis (Emma’s PhD tutor).


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