Union Awards 2024 Round Up

On Wednesday 8th May, we held our annual Union Awards! Check out the winners below!

  • Posted Fri, May 10, 2024 3:58 PM

On Wednesday 8th of May, we hosted our annual Union Awards. 

The Union Awards is a chance for US to celebrate YOU. It has been a remarkable year for students in various aspects of life, and we gathered together to honour the exceptional and talented individuals who comprise our academic community. 

These individuals are the true MVPs of university life, they have surpassed expectations and truly excelled in their roles as student leaders. They have exemplified dedication, passion, and creativity, setting a high standard for future generations of students to aspire to.

Congratulations to all the nominees for the Union Awards - find the full list here and keep reading to find out more about the winners of the 2024 Union Awards!

Check out all the pictures from the evening here!

Exceptional Teaching Award: Dr Calum Kerr

The award was won by Dr Calum Kerr, Senior Lecturer and Deputy Course Leader in Creative Writing. 

When asked how it felt to win the Exception Teaching Award, Calum said:

"Just being nominated was a huge honour, because there are awards for staff that come down from the top of the University, usually for things that have promoted the University or brought money in from the University, but this one comes from the student body and the honour there is huge if you are a teacher that dedicates themselves to the students, so getting that is amazing. I've been teaching in HE for 23 years now and this is my first nomination and to win straight away feels great. And to be able to sit and watch all the great things the Students' Union are doing and what all the students are doing within the Students' Union was wonderful. It was a great evening and a great award."

Congratulations Calum!

Student Leaders Course Representatives: Holly Griffin

The Course Rep programme is the lifeblood of a lot of our academic representational delivery here at the Students’ Union. We have around 1000 volunteer Course Reps who put their hand up and offer their time and effort to make the level of learning and teaching better for everyone.

Holly has worked collaboratively across the University with members of staff and other colleagues regarding the continuing professional development programme on their course (working with the head of their year and the head of their course). They are a true beacon of the collaborative approach, sharing notes, work and helping with transferring thoughts and feelings to ensure that their peers are truly represented. They have shown time and time again that they are truly committed to the development of their course in order to enrich Student Experience on all levels and modes of study.

Congratulations Holly!

Student Staff of the Year: Jodie Harrington

This next awards was to celebrate all the student staff here at the Union. Jodie was commended for their Leadership skills which have developed hugely this year. 

In her role as SSVA she has taken on the leadership of the SVAs in the HSS Faculty. Her flexibility has been a huge asset to the Representation Team this year, delivering results with enthusiasm and passion. She has strong working relationship with members of UoP staff from across the HSS Faculty at all different levels and has used this to develop the work of the HSS team.

Congratulations Jodie!

Student Leaders Support (Peer advisor): Sophie Sparks

Sophie has been a huge support in the Advice Service, supporting the other peer advisers, and often initiates brainstorming sessions amongst the team. This year, she has excelled in her  abilities to reassure students and provide guidance to them through complex situations, whilst regularly checking in and making sure they receive all of the support they need. Sophie has worked many outreach shifts, engaging with people, this has included their own initiative to create study spaces for students in the Union building, where students could come and work alongside the peer advisers.

Congratulations Sophie!

Change Maker Award: Ritah Anastacia 

The Change Maker Award recognises the contributions and commitments of our students around EDI, and the work they do to make change to support student lives.

Ritah has actively promoted her heritage and African culture and traditions through dance and cultural exhibitions. She participated in events like the annual Festival of Cultures showcase during Global Week and the celebration of Uganda's Independence Day not only celebrating her heritage but also fostering cross-cultural understanding and appreciation among participants. Her passion for sharing cultures extends beyond performances to educational initiatives, such as organising exhibitions where attendees can immerse themselves in Ugandan fashion, food, and artefacts, fostering dialogue and understanding among diverse cultural backgrounds. 

Ritah said: 

"I feel so proud and happy because all the efforts and community service paid off. I don't do it for fame or to be recognised, but it is nice to be appreciated."

Congratulations Ritah!

Special Recognition: Hugh Wallis

The Special Recognition award is chosen by the Awards Committee and given to the Individuals that have gone above and beyond to embody the values and vision of the Student Union.

Hugh has been a dedicated and dependable student Staff member with UPSU over multiple years, always upholding the Union's values. Hugh holds positions not only in the Representation team, but also within our Central Services team. He is currently working on projects to provide more opportunities to students, making connections with local companies and arranging guest speakers for students. Most recently he has worked on “Green Week”, where he arranged opportunities for students within his school and across his faculty to offer sustainability in industry.

Congratulations Hugh!

Committee Member of the Year: Verity Knight

Verity has been an amazing President this year, working tirelessly to support the society in its growth. The committee has known exactly what is expected of them, and any issues that have arisen have been dealt with promptly. She has offered support to each member and has worked diligently to enhance the society, including expanding the group's events. She has actively engaged with the group's team at every opportunity and has fostered a culture of collaboration not only with student groups but also within sports clubs.

Congratulations Verity!

Academic Society of the Year: The Construction Society

Our Academic Societies have grown hugely this year, something we’re really proud of. Academic Societies exist to build community within courses, providing extra support and social channels for students that also helps their studies. At the start of this academic year, the Union committed to improving and enhancing the provision of academic Societies at the University of Portsmouth, in September, only around 40% of students had access to an academic society. We're proud to say that that number currently stands at over 90%. 

The Construction Society has truly shown a strong commitment to integrating the society into the fabric of the school. They have provided students with academic support during placements, study sessions, tips, welfare resources, and awareness resources throughout the academic year. Additionally, they have played a significant role in their members' social lives by organising charity work and events such as a quiz, a spring ball, and occasional social gatherings on Purple Wednesdays.

Congratulations to The Construction Society!

Groups Event of the Year: Nerdvana 13 (run by multiple groups)

To be considered for this award, events must aim to achieve and promote EDI, while building community, providing value, developing attendees, and most importantly, allowing students to have fun!

Nerdvana is a long-standing event which is now a cornerstone of the Union social calendar. The event is a collaboration between several different student groups who truly come together in the spirit of the Union and provide great events that entertain and develop hundreds of students. At its recent 13th incarnation, it provides activities such as a quiz, various large scale games, an 8 hour Dungeons and Dragons marathon, movie omnibuses, gaming tournaments, live stream gaming and various screenings, as well as other considerations such as a sensory room. This event truly had something for everyone and is the well deserved winner.

Congratulations Nerdvana 13!

Student Group of the Year: Cuban Salsa Society

The Student Group of the Year award is given to the group that embodies the values of UPSU, what they do for their members, goes far beyond just being a hobby, they provide value and give opportunities to develop their members as well as help not only their members, but also fellow students and the larger Portsmouth Community. This award is reserved for the best group at UPSU in many different areas, it is not enough to simply have the best sessions or the most members, they must be able to evidence that they are able to provide value to the student body and make themselves integral to the student experience at the University of Portsmouth.

Cuban Salsa Society embodies inclusivity, making it a priority to ensure that every individual feels welcomed and valued within our community. They are dedicated to creating an environment where individuals of all backgrounds and skill levels can thrive and appreciate the beauty of dance without any concerns of judgement. Additionally, they consistently show respect and prioritise consent by always seeking permission before taking photos or videos during our events, showcasing their commitment to maintaining a safe and respectful space for all members.

They go above and beyond traditional salsa and bachata instruction by offering a wide variety of classes, including styling, special rumba, reggaeton, footwork, and musicality. This comprehensive approach allows their members to explore different aspects of Latin dance and improve their skills. They are continually striving to enhance their group's offerings and membership experience through innovative teaching techniques, exciting events, and collaborations with guest instructors. Ultimately, they provide their members with enriching experiences that extend beyond the dance floor.

President of the Cuban Salsa Society, Iga Podgorska said: 

"It's my final year, so I'll be gone from Portsmouth, so it's nice way to end the journey."

Congratulations Cuban Salsa Society!

Roxy Negru, Spirit of Participation & Involvement Award Nominations: Louis Wilkins

This Award was created in 2017 to honour our late VP Activities Roxy Negru, who sadly passed away suddenly. She was someone who truly embodied everything that being part of student clubs and societies represents, including support, positivity, inclusivity and fun - she was also completely committed to doing everything in her power to make the experience an amazing one for everyone involved. Each year we share the details of the winner of this award with Roxy's family - and they say that they feel so much pride not just that Roxy is still a big part of how we celebrate here - but also of the outstanding achievements of the individuals that are nominated in her name.

This award recognises a student from this academic year, who has truly embodied all of the values that Roxy did herself when she was in her role with us.

Over the past three years Louie has dedicated themself to rebuilding Nerdvana, Gaming Society and Board Games Society after COVID and making them better than before. He has worked hard to make these spaces to return to a level of engagement seen before quarantine. Louis has done this through cooperating with other student groups, their own committees and in the nominees words, the amazing Union staff. Without the hard work of Louis, Nerdvana, Gaming Society and Board Games Society would not have been the incredibly successful and positive communities for students to belong and do what they love together. 

Congratulations Louie!

In addition to these awards, we also celebrate students through Half and Full Colours. 

Half Colours are awarded to group members, volunteers, academic reps and our casual staff in order to recognise and reward commitment that they have shown to the Union and University community. This could take many forms, usually these are awarded for going above and beyond their respective role and providing value for their stakeholders whether that is breaking ground and providing something new or valuable for their student group, or going above and beyond and working with the Union and developing more than we expect them to as a staff member. 

Congratulations to the Half Colours winners:
Oliver Cripps 
Eleonora Chioatto 
Gabriella Hakansson
Isabella da Costa
Iulia Jurj
Jack Hayes
Kimberly Williams
Modupe Ilesanmi
Samuel Aries
Simba Dude
Soairse Clyne 
Laurence Judd

Full Colours is one of the most prestigious individual awards that the Union can offer to students who actively participate in the community. This award is reserved for individuals who consistently go above and beyond their expected duties for a prolonged period of time. It could be in the form of breaking new ground and providing valuable contributions to their student group, or exceeding expectations as a staff member and collaborating with the Union to develop new initiatives. 

Congratulations to the Full Colours winners:
Ummu-Salamah Danjuma
Charlotte Lord 
Gareth Ncube 
Harry Spencer 
Luke Basford
Luke Campbell
Tithi Rathindra Modak
Iga Podgorska 
Verity Knight

We're so proud of every single one of the nominees and winners and so excited to celebrate your achievements! Well done from everyone at UPSU!

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