Postgraduate Recognition Awards
This annual celebration recognises the achievements of Postgraduate students throughout the year - for going above and beyond to support students, contributing to Postgraduate life at Keele and showing significant kindness and generosity to others.
Who was Bob Beattie?
Bob Beattie first came to Keele in 1965 as the Psychology Department’s first lecturer in Clinical Psychology. Bob was, for many years, a mainstay of the KPA Clubhouse, offering informal counselling and advice to many students. After his passing in 2015, the Clubhouse honoured Bob with a sketch portrait that sits above his spot in the KPA and the association honours him, every year by celebrating deserving students with the ‘Bob Beattie Postgraduate Recognition Awards’.
Do you know someone who has gone above and beyond to support students or contribute to the Postgraduate Community at Keele? Has someone inspired you, shown you great kindness or generosity? Why not nominate them for an award?
More info at: https://www.kpa.org.uk/postgraduate-awards
Winners of the year 2023
We received 13 nominations this year, for postgraduates who have gone “above and beyond” to contribute to the postgraduate community and postgraduate life at Keele.
Two nominees were “Highly-Commended” and awarded £100 each. One further Highly-Commended nominee was awarded £300. And our main prize winner, the Bob Beattie Postgraduate Student of the Year, was awarded a prize of £500.
Our Bob Beattie Postgraduate Student of the Year is AMY BLANEY
She has always been there for other students who raise queries, or are struggling with problems. When anyone contacts her she always responds, gives you a wider context for your problem and you feel you understand the difficulty better. She tells you what she will do to help and later she informs you of what the outcome or solution might be. There is never any question of this being a nuisance or difficulty. Her intervention for example on behalf of the person who nominated her meant that a RefWorks tutorial will be included in the PGR Summer School programme. She makes you feel that asking for help is being proactive and not being a nuisance. That is such a gift when you feel you are raising an issue.
Individually this student helped the person who nominated her to recognise that she had to pace herself and expect that the PhD would be a big step up from an MA. This gave her a much more positive attitude. Our nominee leads a reading group for Humanities students but her open-hearted approach means they don’t just talk about the books they read, which is of tremendous value hearing others’ views, they also talk about how what they are reading relates to their own experiences. This has built a community of readers, some no longer studying at Keele, who feel they are still connected and can join in this friendly but often intellectually challenging enterprise- a real positive for those working away alone.
This year our nominee also established the highly successful PGR Café Sessions; a series of peer-led forum sessions that happen once a month, designed to support fellow PGRs across the university. These sessions have focused on various aspects of the postgraduate researcher experience which has helped many to build a solid foundation at the very beginning of their academic trajectories. Some of the sessions have included how to engage in academic reading and conduct literature reviews, applying for small grants, presenting at conferences and getting published. And these aspects of the PGR experience usually involve experiencing a very steep learning curve, especially when done alone and without having prior knowledge of undertaking such work. By having these sessions, our nominee demystifies the processes behind each facet that is the theme of the peer-led forum session.
She is thoughtful and thorough in presenting topics and disseminates information in a clear, helpful interactive way, always welcoming follow-up. She has obtained funding and is organising a PGR Retreat, which acknowledges that students need to step away from campus and spend time together to enrich their research. As a rep on the Humanities Committee, she voices student concerns effectively and informs them of the Committee’s position on the issues they raise. She does all of this in conjunction with furthering her own excellent work as an academic.
Our nominee gives of her time and herself unstintingly in a number of different forums. She appreciates the need for those who are not able to mix with others to have contact in a relaxed but effective way. Her ability to listen, to welcome and embrace people’s varied opinions allows a convivial and supportive atmosphere in all she leads, and in her personal interactions. It is rare to find someone who has struggled with their own problems during their studies who is so constructive and positive and who is so solution-focused. She is special, although she is too modest to realise it.
Keele is privileged to enjoy her talents - both academically, as she enthuses about her subject, and personally, as she endeavours to smooth the way for others to get as much from their Keele experience as possible. Her impact across the postgraduate research community is immeasurable. Engaging in research is very isolating. The establishment of The PGR Café as a forum, is sending a very clear message to postgraduate researchers – that the work of PGRs is valued. And that there is an opportunity to understand aspects of the PGR journey, alongside other PGRs, in a supportive environment. She absolutely deserves this recognition.
Our First Highly-Commended Student is SOPHIA TAHA
She motivates those around her, not only by her words and actions, but also by being herself. At events, she includes everyone around her in discussion - and discussions with her are always fruitful, as she is naturally always guiding other students regarding research, publication and further studies.
The person who nominated her has struggled with a lot of health issues and being a girl from a similar conservative background. Our nominee is a true inspiration for all those who come from patriarchal backgrounds and go through lot of health issues and still manage to smile and motivate others, while setting an example by their hard work and positive vibes.
The nominee’s story always motivates people, that they too can overcome the struggles in front of them. This nominee listens to others’ issues related to their personal life, as well as studies, and has supported them personally many times. She will always smile and will never judge you.
Our nominee is really calm and cool for the students around her - even those who hesitate to talk to others can talk to her easily and she will fill you with hope and positivity when you are around her. She is a vibrant person with knowledge of many fields around and can discuss with you any general topic, without being biased. She is a PhD student but really cooperates with the Master's students, She will give you useful insights even while everyone around is in gossiping mode. This gives the Masters students hope that there is someone who they may go to and seek guidance. We really do need more people like her around, so that our postgraduate community gets stronger and we get a sense of belonging. She regularly takes part in KPA events and many other students ask for her when she is not around.
The fact that she is a special person can be seen in her behaviour, her supporting nature, her knowledge of different subjects, her zeal to spread smiles despite whatever she has gone through and her management of the life work balance. Everything she does is motivating.
Our Second Highly-Commended Student is NATASHA DURY
She has attended nearly every sustainability event that has been held at Keele during this academic year. From Carbon Literacy training, to Hedgehog Friendly Campus events, to the regular Student Eats volunteer gardening sessions on campus, she has attended and been keen to learn more about her surroundings and the Keele environment. Her positive attitude encourages other students to take part and she breaks down the barriers of "no question is a silly question" with ease. This nominee stepped up for a leading role in the Earth Stories Film Festival, being on the senior judging panel and also helping to present the event at the showcase days, where she stood proudly on the stage to represent Keele and the student community.
By supporting the sustainability initiatives, this nominee has played a part in making the campus more sustainable and biodiverse for all who use it. Her actions and volunteering at Keele Green Festival and other events is really helping to raise awareness around sustainability, volunteering and exploring the campus.
This nominee shows up regardless of the weather or the time. Her support has meant the world to the person who nominated her, as well as all the campaigns and activities she has supported, but she remains humble and enthusiastic. She maintains an open mind and is often the first to try out new things and say 'yes' to random, blue-sky opportunities. This nominee is an exemplar international postgraduate student, who has showcased and thrived on the delicate balance between completing a Masters and getting involved in the Keele community.
Our Third Highly-Commended Student is LUCY FOX
She has consistently brought a tremendous sense of passion, kindness, heart and advocacy to her course mates. She has worked hard to ensure her fellow students feel heard, respected and valued. At times, their course has been difficult to navigate, with its heavy and emotional content, but this nominee has used her voice exceptionally and encouraged her fellow-students to use theirs alongside her, all while delivering justice with a brilliant and uplifting sense of humour. She makes others feel safe, supported and seen.
What is so valuable about this student's approach and actions is that she sees and hears everyone. Her kindness and warmth have reached all the corners of the course, she gives in abundance without draining her own important resources. It's been inspirational to the person who nominated her, to see her centre herself just as much as she centres others. The advice and support she has offered has nurtured growth, confidence, self-advocacy and pride in others, after hearing her stand up for what is important. The person who nominated her has even said that they wouldn't be who they are today without the influence of this “brilliant human being”.
Simply put, this person brings joy. Postgrad life is stressful, but all the while, she has injected humour, warmth and understanding to each day spent on campus. When she walks into a room, the air becomes a little lighter, the energy in the room starts to buzz, and people become more connected with each other. She remembers things about each person, gives incredible support and advice to all, and she has been an awesome role model and absolute pillar of support for their course.