The Alan Greenwood Prize is an award of £100 given to the student who has contributed most to promoting and enhancing opportunities for equality and diversity with the school.
Stephanie won the Alan Greenwood Prize for promoting and enhancing opportunities for equality and diversity in the Physics department. Her most significant achievement was the complete revision of the purpose, relationships and structure of the Peer Mentoring Scheme, through which staff and students of different year groups come together to interact, cooperate and share their excitement and passion for physics.
She chose Manchester University to study Physics for its wealth of research and reputation as a hub for brilliant and enthusiastic minds. She relished the prospect of personally interacting with the academic staff. In her first year, she became discouraged by the lack of student - staff cohesion, felt a huge culture shock coming from Belgium and became unsure of her choice of study.
She got to know several of herlecturers through questions, discussion and showing her fascination and determination to perform in their courses. Through this contact, she became part of the department, and the culture shock she had experienced was no longer an issue. She grew determined to help other students experiencing the same barriers.
She became Student Coordinator for the Scheme in the second semester of her second year, and began developing a structure for mentors to follow their mentees effectively by first writing a Mentoring Guide. She worked with her co-oordinator, Rory Clark, to establish a system of Mentor Journals, though which groups maintain a record of their activities and they receive feedback and ideas from students. Through the Scheme, students have come together to discuss physics, academic life and their questions about the years ahead, in sessions numbering over 70.
The coordination team grew to include two trainee coordinators, and together they put on events and group activities. Students have expressed their wish for a combined pastoral and academic support structure in the form of PASS (Peer Assisted Study Sessions). Having attended briefings on the PASS principle and obtained support from the Academic staff, she is now excited to say PASS will be in action in our department as of September 2015.
I feel privileged in having this unique opportunity to develop new ideas and bring together students and staff. I would like to say a special thank you to my Co-coordinator Rory Clark, the Junior coordinators Ashley Haney and Vual Suleymanli, and finally to the members of staff who have helped to the scheme through its growth. They have been key in supporting the Scheme and myself throughout the last 18 months.
For the last few years I have been a Widening Participation fellow for physics. It has been my privilege to encourage students from a variety of age groups and backgrounds to study physics beyond GCSE. Institute of Physics studies have shown that if you can encourage students to take an interest in physics early, before common misconceptions and stereotypes are imprinted on their minds, they are much more likely to appreciate the subject for the wonders it holds. To this end I have spoken in schools and colleges, designed and run workshops, visited science and careers fairs and a host of other activities designed to spark an interest in physics in students, from primary school age up to A-level.
I hold the view that if somebody has an interest in a subject they should be able to explore that interest to their satisfaction, regardless of their background. If each individual in our society is not permitted the opportunity to push beyond their own boundaries then that missed opportunity diminishes us all. If I have encouraged any students to forget the meaning of the words 'no', 'can't' or 'not allowed' I will consider my time well spent