UHI Inverness announces Student of the Year winners

UHI Inverness has announced its five winners of this year's Student of the Year Awards.

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Cobey MacQuarrie, Senior Phase Student of the Year

The awards celebrate the achievements of students and apprentices at the Inverness Campus and the Scottish School of Forestry.

This year’s winners have been recognised for a range of reasons, including academic achievement, overcoming adversity, personal endeavour and exceptional peer support.

The winners are:

Higher Education Student of the Year – William Moncrieff, BA (Hons) Sports Management

Further Education Student of the Year – Medine Duff, Higher Social Science

Postgraduate Student of the Year – Joy Nicolson, MSc Applied Data Science

Apprentice Student of the Year – Kimberley McIntyre, Painting and Decorating SVQ III

Senior Phase Student of the Year – Cobey MacQuarrie, NPA Sports Development

UHI Inverness Principal and Chief Executive, Professor Chris O’ Neil, said: “My warm congratulations go to our five worthy winners on their fantastic achievements. They have all displayed an outstanding dedication to their studies and are inspiring role models for our student body.   

“I am impressed by how they have engaged fully with our learning community, offering valuable support to their fellow students, and demonstrating a commitment and enthusiasm to achieve. Their accomplishments are even more impressive, considering they had to study under the Covid-19 restrictions that were still in place at the start of this academic year.”

The five winners were nominated by staff members and have each received a certificate and a £100 voucher.

Higher Education Student of the Year – William Moncrieff

William Moncrieff (21) from Nethy Bridge, completed his third year in BA (Hons) Sports Management with high grades this year, despite suffering life-changing health issues.

He suspended his studies to recuperate and adjust and returned in the 2021/22 academic year.

With the support of the Wellbeing and Learning Support Team, in particular Louise MacDonald and Naomi Philbrick, William was able to attend classes both face-to-face on campus and remotely online, gaining five A grades and a B. He was also elected Student Voice Rep by his fellow students.

William said: “It is very nice to be put forward for an award and to be recognised, it was really touching. The lecturing and support staff have been brilliant, they have been very encouraging and always willing to give an extra hand. They are always there if you need them.”

William started studying on a one-year HNC Coaching and Developing Sport course and moved onto the HND Coaching and Developing Sport. He will begin the fourth year of his degree after the summer. In terms of a career, William is happy to discover where his studies take him.

His Programme Leader and Personal Academic Tutor, Kirsten Grant, said: “As well as producing high quality work, William is a friendly and very likeable student who has shown a great deal of commitment to achieve and progress. William is a standout candidate for this award, regardless of his health setback, however it is a great tribute to him that he has managed to overcome this adversity through his outstanding attitude and application.”

Senior Phase Student of the Year – Cobey MacQuarrie

Cobey MacQuarrie (17) attended UHI Inverness as a Senior Phase student, studying NPA Sports Development on Fridays while a sixth-year pupil at Inverness Royal Academy.

His studies were interrupted when his mother passed away at the start of this year and then again in April when he spent time in hospital. When his circumstances improved, Cobey spent many hours working in the campus library catching up on course work.

Cobey from Inverness said the various personal difficulties he suffered has made this year the hardest of his life.

“I found that attending college always helped me,” said Cobey.

“I’ve enjoyed being in the college atmosphere and my lecturer Ross Pattison has been really supportive. I enjoyed the course, especially the gym side of it, and the strength and conditioning we did. I saw great improvements in myself.

“What I would want to see from this is other people seeing what happened to me and reflect off it themselves. No matter how much you have been through, as long as you keep going, you can get whatever you want. This award is something that has made me feel really humble, and grateful for the work that I have put in.”

Cobey will return to UHI Inverness after the summer to study a sports course. He has ambitions to be either a football coach or a PE teacher.

His lecturer Ross Pattison said: “I feel lucky to have Cobey as a student, and happy to help him on his journey from this year, where everything that could go wrong did go wrong, hopefully on to a brighter future where more good things come his way. His hard work deserves this!”

Further Education Student of the Year – Medine Duff

Medine Duff, a mature student from Forres, completed Higher Social Science this year and plans to progress with UHI Inverness to study a Creative Writing degree.

Originally from Turkey, she is a mother to two teenagers, runs her own business Café Medine, sells her produce at a Saturday market in Inverness and has won awards for her cooking and her contributions to her community.

Medine said: “Winning this award is like a dream; I am very grateful. My family shared in my happiness, and we celebrated together.

“I have been a student for three years at UHI Inverness and I've really enjoyed every single day. I was embraced by my lecturers, the personal development advisors, and classmates, although I am as old as their mothers, or even older. No one looked at my age, language gap and ethnic differences. I really appreciated it.”

Medine previously studied English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and then NC Social Science Level 5.

She was nominated by her Humanities lecturer Tracy Kennedy, who said: “Medine is an excellent example of how studying hard, raising a family and running your own business can work – especially as English is not her first language.”

Apprentice Student of the Year – Kimberley McIntyre

Kimberley McIntyre (27) from Culloden began studying at UHI Inverness in 2017 and has recently completed her four-year apprenticeship, latterly studying Painting and Decorating SVQ III.

She worked in retail and hospitality before being persuaded to join her brothers David and Iain in the family business McIntyre Painting and Decorating Services.

She represented UHI Inverness at the Painting and Decorating Association’s UK Apprentice Paperhanger of the Year in Doncaster last year and was named Senior Entrant winner at the awards ceremony in November.

She has surprised herself with how well she has taken to the trade, particularly with winning these two awards.

“It’s just been shock after shock,” said Kimberley.

“When I got the letter, I thought it was to tell me if I had passed my skills test, but it notified me about this award. It was such a big surprise, and my family threw a party for me to celebrate.

“Being at UHI Inverness has been brilliant. The lecturers have been really supportive, I wouldn’t have stuck at it if it wasn’t for them pushing me, being really encouraging.”

Her lecturer Mark Mitchell said: “Kimberley is a huge asset to her employer, a credit to UHI Inverness and an inspiration to young women considering a future in the construction industry.”

Postgraduate Student of the Year – Joy Nicolson

Joy Nicolson is currently studying MSc Applied Data Science part-time and online from her home in Cupar, Fife, while working full-time as a data analyst for Children’s Hospices Across Scotland.

She started as one of the first cohorts on the course in January 2021, as part of her continuous professional learning.

Her Programme Leader and Personal Academic Tutor, Andrew Duncan, said: “Joy is not only a very high achieving student, but she is an incredibly supportive and active student across the programme. She is enabling other students to have a better learning experience than they might do were she not studying alongside them.”

Joy said she was hugely surprised to even be nominated.

She said: “The tutors have been great around making sure they time their assessments to fit in with us. It is that kind of flexibility that means I could fit my studies around my employment. They go the extra mile to help us with our studies. That’s true of all the lecturers we’ve had so far, particularly Andrew Duncan. He puts in a lot of effort, care, and attention to provide a really good online environment.”

Joy plans to study two modules in the coming year and hopes to complete her dissertation by the end of 2023.