A mother who combined looking after her disabled daughter while studying during COVID-19 and a talented young mathematician who is confined to a wheelchair are among four Black African Caribbean students from Middlesex University who have been awarded a £1,000 scholarship grant in recognition of their outstanding achievements.
An ‘exceptional’ biochemist and the ‘student midwife of the year’ are the other MDX winners of funding from the Wilkes Education Scholarship Trust (WEST).
This scholarship recognises not only students of Black African Caribbean heritage but also those who have been a ‘positive role model’ to other students and made a ‘positive contribution’ in extra-curricular activities.
The MDX students have already received half of the money with the remainder due to be awarded this month.
Anthony Wilkes, the Founder of WEST, said: “For the second year running, Wilkes Education Scholarship Trust (WEST) is delighted to award scholarship grants to extremely deserving Middlesex University students.
“This year, four Middlesex University students belong to our cohort of grant recipients for the academic year 2021/22.
“They all received multiple nominations from their department – not only for their outstanding academic accomplishments, but also for their perseverance through times of adversity and
, services to their community. They are exemplary role models for all, in particular , fellow and aspiring higher education students in Black African Caribbean communities.”
Olubunmi ‘Bunmi’ Adetokunbo Obayomi, who is in the final year of a BSc degree in Fashion Design and Textiles, said she was “elated” to win the grant which will pay for equipment for her planned small screen-printing business.
She was nominated by Lauren Fried, a former MDX Lecturer in Fashion Visual Cultures, and Jodie Ruffle, a Programme Leader for Fashion Textiles and Design, who both described how Bunmi is a “committed, passionate and engaged” student, who despite personal challenges has “enthusiastically pursued her studies at Middlesex to wonderful results”.
Bunmi is the sole parent and a full time carer of her adult disabled daughter and had to isolate for extensive periods during the pandemic because of her daughter’s vulnerabilities. However she is on course to obtain a 2:1 and is a “joy to teach” who “pushes other students further”.
Bunmi is also passionate about sustainable fashion and uses found materials, upcycling techniques, responsible dyeing and printing methods to give discarded fabric and garments new life.
Lauren added in the nomination: “I am personally constantly inspired by Bunmi, and I know the rest of her cohort is as well, as are every single one of her tutors.
“She is an extremely talented creator, researcher and designer. I anticipate great success for her once she graduates next year. This award would be a lifeline for Bunmi and would allow her the support to continue working to the best of her abilities.”
Kyle Mcadam-Whyte, a mature student who is in the final year of a BSc Mathematics who is described as a “great role model” for fellow students. In 2014, Kyle was paralysed following a road traffic accident and has since been confined to an electric wheelchair.
Dr Nick Sharples, a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics, who nominated Kyle said he “has approached this challenging discipline with enthusiasm and patience”.
During the pandemic and online learning period, Kyle was “thoroughly” engaged.
“His input has been particularly valuable during the remote lectures of the pandemic as other students have been more hesitant to contribute,” added Dr Sharples.
“Kyle’s enthusiasm for discussion has motivated and energised our remote lectures, and has encouraged his peers to be more interactive and so get more out of these lectures.”
Kyle has also been involved with an educational research project ‘Student Curation of Video Lectures’, funded by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) in which he reviews recorded video lectures for the most interesting and useful segments, while providing advice on good practice. In future, Kyle is considering an application for the MA in Financial Mathematics.
Speaking about receiving the WEST award, Savannah Gordon, a final year BSc Biochemistry student, said: “My initial reaction to being awarded the grant was disbelief, then gratitude and confidence in myself and my abilities.
“I am so grateful to the organisation for acknowledging my achievements and potential. It's a privilege to accept this grant and it definitely encourages me to press on and properly consider a future in science. This money will help ease financial pressures of my final term, so I can focus more on my studies and getting the best grades.”
Savannah, 23, who grew up near Middlesex University in Wembley, North London, is aiming to become a medical lab assistant and is also considering the Master’s programme.
She was nominated by Dr Dirk Wildeboer, the Science Programme Leader for BSc Biochemistry programmes, and Dr Sandra Appiah, a Senior Lecturer in Biochemistry/Chemistry.
They described how Savannah’s grades in her foundation year were “exceptional” and how she was nominated by academic staff to become a Student Learning Assistant (SLA) because of her “aptitude and enthusiasm for learning”.
SLAs liase regularly with staff and provide support for other students – Savannah has been hailed as a
The final MDX grant award winner is Nicolette Porter, 22, a third year BSc Midwifery student who grew up in Ilford, Essex.
“I was delighted to receive the WEST grant, it has really motivated me to keep on working hard,” said Nicolette.
“It’s an amazing feeling when your efforts get recognised.
“This scholarship money will help me to be able to fully focus on my degree and purchase books and any resources I need to support me, without as many concerns.
“I’ve really enjoyed my experience at MDX despite my degree somewhat being atypical due to studying a healthcare course during the pandemic.”
This is another accolade for Nicolette who was awarded the Nursing Times’ Student Midwife of the Year Award in 2021 for her outstanding efforts, and she has also been accepted for the Council of Dean’s Student Leadership Programme.
Nicolette praised her personal tutor Emilie Edwards, a Midwifery Lecturer, who nominated her for the award.
Emilie said that Nicolette “consistently achieves high firsts in both her academic work at Middlesex University and practice at a hospital in London as a student midwife. Her supervisors give her excellent feedback for her competence and communication with both the staff and the families she works with.”
Nicolette has begun research as part of her third-year dissertation looking into how to improve access to maternity care for autistic clients. She also regularly writes well-researched articles on a monthly voluntarily basis for the NHS Trust student newsletter called the Hummingbird.