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Argyll support assistant honoured in student awards

Thursday 21 August 2014
Argyll support assistant honoured in student awards

Jenny Macdonald and Alan

A student support assistant at Argyll College UHI has been honoured in the fifth annual University of the Highlands and Islands’ Student Association Awards. Jenny Macdonald, from Oban, won the Best Support Staff category in the student-led scheme. She was commended for going the extra mile to assist students, often using her own time to help.

Jenny was nominated by Alan Macdonald, one of the students she provides support to. Alan said: “Jenny has been my support for the last two years covering my NC and HNC in sound production. Due to my lack of vision and allergy to dogs, I need guided by a person and I instantly felt comfortable in her company.

“It took a while for us to get all the accessibility equipment (e.g. talking software for the laptop) in place at the start of last year. I didn’t know until much later that she had actually been going home and watching YouTube videos on how to work it so she could help me more. I also had to purchase a large control surface mixer which I was transporting to college in a supermarket bag for life. Jenny took it upon herself to measure the mixer and, as she is keen on sewing, made a proper, custom bag with foam sewn inside to protect the knobs and buttons.

“The workload is heavy and I’m still battling accessibility issues with the software, but Jenny kept my spirits and confidence up when I was having a wobble. She has a sixth sense for caring and just knows what to say at the right times. These are skills that money just can’t buy. She is simply the most unselfish person I have ever had to help me since I lost my vision. Her ability to go the extra step and turn difficult days into fun while doing it all with a laugh and warmth is nothing short of incredible.”

Speaking about her award, Jenny said: “I have always held an ambition to attend university to gain a degree, so to be given an award at university level, particularly when selected by the student board, is a huge honour. Thank you.”

Organised by UHISA, the UHI Students’ Association, the awards recognise excellence in seven categories. The other winners were:

  • Most Engaging Video Conference Tutor, Gill Berkeley - Moray College UHI
  • Best Assessment Feedback, Annie Lamb - Moray College UHI
  • Best Research or Dissertation Supervisor, Melanie Smith - Inverness College UHI
  • Most Inspiring Lecturer, Kate Hayes - Inverness College UHI
  • Best Personal Academic Tutor, Tina Riddell - Perth College UHI
  • Student Representative of the Year, Aisling Goodey - Perth College UHI

The University of the Highlands and Islands was one of the first institutions to work with the Higher Education Academy and National Union of Students to introduce student-led teaching awards. They have now been adopted throughout most of the United Kingdom.

UHISA president Rachel Parker said: “It is truly inspiring to judge the UHISA awards. They celebrate excellence within the university, enabling students to commend those whose dedication has benefited them in their time studying here and they demonstrate how much students value being able to provide positive feedback. I would like to congratulate all the winners as students have such a vital role in the function of a university and we appreciate this opportunity to reward those that have made the experience of students an excellent one.”
Dr Iain Morrison, dean of students at the university, said: “These awards are highly valued by the recipients because they are chosen by the people who matter most to them: our students. Each winner, and the many other nominees, should be proud of the transformative influence of their work that has been recognised by learners in our region.”

The winners will all receive a trophy and certificate.

Horticulture student Claire Young from Lochgilphead was named as Argyll College UHI’s Further Education Student of the Year last month.