A degree level apprentice whose research project is saving her employer thousands of pounds, a mother of four who balanced her own full time study with home schooling through the Covid-19 pandemic and a mother of six who got to grips with new learning techniques and software, had a baby and launched two businesses during her degree study were the recipients of special awards at a graduation ceremony for the Class of 2022 from University Centre Reaseheath (UCR).
They were Carla Lindsay, a Foundation Degree in Dairy Technology apprentice on our Eden programme, who received the Meredydd David Award for Academic and Technical Excellence, Selina Royle, a BSc (Hons) Wildlife Conservation (First Class) graduate who was selected for the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Undergraduate Research and Rachael Cardus, a BSc (Hons) Equine Science and Sports Performance (First Class) graduate, who was this year’s recipient of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Achievement and Personal Progression.
Read their stories below:
Carla Lindsay (Foundation Degree in Dairy Technology)
Meredydd David Award for Academic and Technical Excellence
Carla, the first female cheesemaker at Arla Foods’ Lockerbie site and a Higher Level Apprentice in Dairy Technology on our industry leading Eden programme, was selected for her award due to the outstanding success of her final year dissertation project. This investigated the microbiological contamination of whey protein concentrate during its transfer from Lockerbie to Denmark for use in food products including baby formula.
Carla applied what she had learned from her UCR course, which included continuous improvement and project management techniques and significant studies of microbiology, whey protein processing, equipment design and cleaning. She also worked in conjunction with internal team members and outside agencies such as chemical suppliers to identify the root cause of the problem.
The results of her research led directly to establishing the source of the microbial contamination and also enabled her to develop a long term solution to the problem. This has increased customer satisfaction, reduced the environmental impact of the product disposal and has saved her employers £400,000 to date.
Carla, who was a student on our graduating Cohort 11, also earned this year’s ‘Eden Student of the Year Award’ from the Society of Dairy Technology for her hard work, dedication and commitment.
She said: “The real worth of my Reaseheath degree was that that I acquired knowledge and skills which I could immediately transfer to my workplace.
“My lecturers had wide experience of the dairy processing industry and I had the chance to gain practical experience using industry standard machinery and equipment which I wouldn’t necessarily have time for during my regular job. I also enjoyed studying alongside peers from other dairy companies and learning from them.”
Selina Royle BSc (Hons) Wildlife Conservation (First Class)
Dean’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Undergraduate Research
Selina was selected for her award for the consistent high standards of her academic work despite challenges including home schooling her four children and running a busy household throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
Her lecturers felt that Selina’s passion for her subject, combined with her dedication to her studies and application of her developing knowledge and skills, enabled her to more than surpass her initial achievement expectations.
For her final research project and dissertation, Selina looked at the health benefits of spending time out of doors during the Covid-19 pandemic, whether this increased peoples’ connection to nature and what the implications for conservation might be.
Data from a sample of 350 people showed that during lockdown the respondees generally spent more time than usual out of doors, and that they felt their mental and physical health was improved by being outside. They also felt more connected to nature and were more likely to become involved with conservation. This higher appreciation, however, decreased when work, leisure and family demands resumed in full once the pandemic was over.
Selina’s key finding was that people will connect with nature provided they are given the time and resources to do so, and she suggested that this could be achieved if more readily accessible outdoor spaces with interpretation boards were created in business locations, schools and public places.
Selina, who had not previously studied at higher level, began her UCR journey by completing our Access to HE course and is now considering continuing onto a Master’s degree and from there possibly into teaching.
She said: “I’ve always wanted to be involved with natural history but I didn’t realise that it could offer me a career until now. My course was really good because it had a good mix of relevant practical and theory sessions. I also enjoyed being at a smaller university because you get a lot of one-to-one attention and support from the lecturers, who are all brilliant.”
Rachael Cardus BSc (Hons) Equine Science and Sports Performance (First Class)
Dean’s Award for Outstanding Achievement and Personal Progression
Rachael Cardus was chosen for her award for the resilience, motivation and sheer determination she showed to complete her studies to the highest standard.
A mother of six, Rachael had gained previous equine experience but her initial written work did not reflect her level of knowledge and understanding. However, extra support from UCR’s inclusive learning team which included reading software allowed her to truly reflect her abilities.
Two weeks after finishing her Level 4 exams she gave birth to a son, followed by a year at Level 5 which was dominated by Covid-19, but by her final year she had really blossomed and her Level 6 dissertation project, in which she explored the links between noseband pressure and the contact of the rider using Synchronicity rein tension metering software, was exceptional.
During her last year of study Rachael also launched two holistic equine businesses – a riding school and the Top Line Equine Academy in Meols, Wirral. Both are aimed at improving the all round welfare of horses through riding tuition along with horsemanship and horse care, using the knowledge she gained during her degree studies. Rachael also used her newly acquired expertise to successfully achieve the local council licensing requirements for her riding school.
She also takes in former race horses from the British and Irish Thoroughbred Agency for rehabilitation, retraining and rehoming, and finds the physiology, nutrition and injury rehabilitation modules from her degree particularly useful.
Rachael said: “What I really enjoyed from my degree course was being able to have time to study and learn from experts with personal experience of the equine industry. Balancing family and study demands were tricky at times but my lecturers were incredibly encouraging and I could turn to them at any time for support.”
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