Ryan Gow is first to achieve Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award through UHI

UHI North Highland lecturer and former BSc (Hons) computing student Ryan Gow is the first person to achieve a Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award through UHI.

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Ryan Gow at the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award event at Buckingham Palace in May 2022

Now employed by UHI as a portal developer, computer science lecturer and personal academic tutor, Ryan began his Duke of Edinburgh’s (DofE) award in 2011 when he was a pupil at Wick High School. After training expeditions in Forsinard and Ardgay, Ryan completed his walking expedition in the Chiquibul Forest Reserve in the Greater Mayan Mountains in Belize.

While a student at UHI North Highland, Ryan was able to continue with the volunteering, physical, skill and residential sections of the achievement award. He volunteered for over two years with Caithness Drug and Alcohol Forum, providing digital and administrative support for the charity. Ryan also took part in a week-long residential trip to Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, where he completed a comparative exercise for UHI North Highland on the learner engagement and student experience between the two academic partners. As part of his DofE challenge, Ryan also learned to play golf.

Ryan completed his gold award in November 2020 and last month attended a celebratory event held in Buckingham Palace attended by The Earl of Wessex.

After the event, Ryan said: “Completing my Duke of Edinburgh’s Gold Award has brought me a great sense of achievement which I will carry with me throughout my life. The programme has introduced me to lifelong friends, improved my self-esteem and built my confidence. The award is recognised internationally, and I would encourage anyone who is considering taking part in the DofE to take the first step and give it a go. It really helps you discover abilities that you may not realise even exist!”

David Shaw, Curriculum Manager in Rural Studies at UHI North Highland, assessed Ryan during his award. He said: “Ryan was an excellent member of the student team that we sent to Sinclair Community College in Ohio. He was a great team player who also demonstrated leadership skills and real determination to learn as much as possible from staff and students throughout the trip. On our return, Ryan played a key role in collating and presenting the group’s findings to our staff. We are so proud of Ryan’s achievements and are delighted to now work alongside him at UHI North Highland.”

Dr Iain Morrison, Dean of Student Experience at UHI, commented: “Ryan has always shone during his time with UHI, both as a student and now as a colleague. UHI is where learning means more, and Ryan grasped the opportunity we provide for continued personal growth and community engagement through our work with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme. We couldn’t be prouder of Ryan, and I would encourage other students to follow his lead, including taking the chance to continue with any awards they may have started in school.”

Debbie Murray, UHI North Highland Principal, said: “This is a great achievement for Ryan and we are delighted to be able to offer similar opportunities to our students in the coming year.”

UHI is licensed by the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award to run programmes with eligible students and staff. An achievement award open to young people under the age of 25, the DofE gives participants the opportunity to build confidence, resilience and skills for life and work, and to fulfil their potential. As a world-recognised award, the DofE is also highly valued by employers. For more information about the DofE, see www.dofe.org/do.