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Swansea University's Student Leadership Academy

Swansea University's Student Leadership Academy

Two outstanding Swansea University students are in the running for the Most Inspirational Student of the Year award in this year’s Student Nursing Times Awards.

The University’s College of Human and Health Sciences has also been shortlisted in the Best Student Experience category for its work in establishing a Student Leadership Academy.

The prestigious Student Nursing Times Awards aim to celebrate and support the achievements of the student nursing community across the UK. This year’s awards have received a record-breaking 500 entries from talented student nurses, education providers, and mentors.

In the running for the Most Inspirational Student of the Year award is 45-year-old Sam Richards, a former retail manager from Swansea who took a leap of faith and joined Swansea University in 2017 to study Mental Health Nursing. His shortlisting comes in recognition of his commitment to student leadership and helping his fellow students develop their own leadership qualities by helping to establish a Student Leadership Academy.

He said: “As a career-changer, and therefore a latecomer to nursing, I’ve tried to make the most of every opportunity that has come my way. After initially experiencing real self-doubt and imposter syndrome at the start of my studies, I was encouraged by many within the university to embrace the life experience and transferable skills of my precious career and harness these positively in a nursing context. 

“The success that I achieved in the National Student Leadership Programme and with the Swansea University Student Leadership Academy is really down to this encouragement and it’s something I’ve tried to pass on to fellow students, aspiring nursing students and colleagues.”

Matthew Townsend, a 36-year-old Adult Nursing student from Milford Haven has also been shortlisted in the Most Inspirational Student of the Year category. Alongside his studies, Matthew has established a support network for the LGBTQ+ community in Pembrokeshire. He has also run awareness training for student nurses and has encouraged the uptake of the rainbow lanyard scheme which lets patients know that they’re being taken care of in an LGBTQ+ friendly healthcare setting.

Matthew said: “To be shortlisted means so very much to me and that my efforts and dedication to my patients and the nursing profession has been recognised at this level. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without the unwavering support of a fantastic faculty and supportive staff. I’d like to extend a personal thanks to my academic mentor, Elaine Jones, who never tires of my many questions and thirst for knowledge and for always helping me be the best I can possibly be.”

On being shortlisted in the Best Student Experience category, Beryl Mansel, director the university’s Student Leadership Academy, said: "We’re thrilled to have made this year’s shortlist. Last year, we launched the Student Leadership Academy for first-year pre-registration health and social care students. We have made fantastic progress since then, and this nomination is an excellent tribute to our highly motivated future leaders without whom none of this would be possible."

Winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on 24 April 2020.

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