University students celebrate the Chester Difference!

Posted on 26th June 2017

Students and staff from the University of Chester and representatives of the Chester community came together at a celebration event to recognise the achievements of students who have successfully completed the Chester Difference Award (CDA).

(L-R) Students Holly Jevons, Millie Frith and Rumer Cooper all of whom successfully completed the Chester Difference Excellence Award.
(L-R) Students Holly Jevons, Millie Frith and Rumer Cooper all of whom successfully completed the Chester Difference Excellence Award.
These students are a real credit to themselves and the local community and the evening was a great opportunity to share and celebrate their success.
Helen Mitchell, Acting Director of Careers and Employability

Now in its fourth year, the Award celebrates a wide range of extra-curricular activities undertaken by students in addition to their academic work. This includes part-time work, volunteering, employability training, additional short courses or being a captain or committee member of a Chester Students’ Union club or society. Each student chooses their own combination of activities from the wide range recognised by the Award, making each individual’s achievement unique. A total of 90 students completed the Award this year, including 18 who received the highest level, the Chester Difference Excellence Award. 

There are three levels of Award attainment: The Chester Difference Award; The Plus Award; and The Excellence Award. Each level demonstrates a huge commitment as students balance their studies with a varying amount of hours dedicated to making themselves stand out. 

The celebration event took place at St Mary’s Creative Space in Chester city centre, adjacent to the University’s Riverside Campus. It was co-hosted by comperes Matt Baker and Francis Tucker. Speakers included: the University’s Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dr Chris Haslam; Director of Student Futures, Dr Sean Dunkin; and Simon Sandford, Director of not-for-profit organisation, Healthbox CIC. Some of the students who have successfully completed the Award also spoke at the event: Mariann Biro, a first year student of Conservation Biology who received the Chester Difference Award; Richard Bloxam-Rose, a second year Cybersecurity student who received the Chester Difference Plus Award; and James Bullen, a second year Geography and Natural Hazard Management student, who received the Chester Difference Excellence Award. 

James said: “The awards evening proved that we – the students – are collectively making a difference in communities and in societies. On a more personal level, it’s not just about the hours you put in, or the great award you can put on your CV, but it is about the enjoyment of the scheme and the enthusiasm to use the skills you’ve developed and take that further into your career.” 

One student’s volunteering has led her to the greatest of all fundraising challenges - climbing to the summit of Everest. Millie Frith, a final year Marketing with Events Management student, who won the Chester Difference Excellence Award, said:

“The Chester Difference Award has opened my eyes to opportunities I’d never dreamt of, like climbing to Everest base camp and helping to rebuild schools in Nepal following the earthquake. My cycle from London to Paris raised £5,000 for charity and, through volunteering and going for the award, I’ve found a new passion for mountaineering. My dream now is to climb to the summit of Everest.” 

Helen Mitchell, Acting Director of Careers and Employability, said: “The CDA celebration event was an amazing culmination of 12 months of hard work by both our students and the Careers and Employability team. It was wonderful to see rewarded the great efforts made by our students to enhance their long term employability, by engaging in many and varied extra-curricular activities, including volunteering, part time work, ambassador roles and attending our Enhance Your Employability training programme. These students are a real credit to themselves and the local community and the evening was a great opportunity to share and celebrate their success. 

“I’d also like to thank TalkTalk Business, who have endorsed the Award from the start.”