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University of York students lead from the front

Posted on 15 July 2016

Three final year students have been awarded the Chancellor’s Leadership Prize after excelling on the York Award Leaders programme.

York Award Leaders programme participants

Sophie Hurst, Alex Byron and Beni Ngwamah were chosen after taking part in the three-day course held at the University of York.

The innovative programme is designed to help students focus on the skills and experience they need for success after graduation. The course is designed by the Leadership Development team in the University’s HR department and featured graduate employers. This year’s course was run as a pilot, with the full programme starting in 2017/18.

A total of 30 students took part in this year’s pilot, which involved presenting team projects to a panel of employers, including representatives from Nestle, IT giant FDM, the Chamber of Commerce and a local technology and science company.

Following a rigorous selection process the final three were chosen to receive the Chancellor’s Prize.

The Chancellor’s Prizes have been donated by Sir Malcolm (University of York Chancellor) and Lady Grant with each of the three awardees receiving £1000.

Andrew Ferguson Assistant Director, Business, Community and Enterprise said: “I was delighted at both the number and sheer quality of the students applying to take part.

“All the participants demonstrated leadership qualities in their time at York across a wide range of activities and all of them engaged fully with the training and impressed the employers.”

“Although all the participants were obvious leaders, the positive qualities involved were particularly typified by Beni, Alex and Sophie.”


History student Sophie, from Cheshire, said: “I found the whole experience invaluable; pitching ideas to employers such as Nestle and listening to their feedback.

“I learnt what leadership means, about self- management and commercial awareness. I will take away so much from the course into the workplace. ”


Beni, who is from north London and studied Politics, Economics and Philosophy, said: “You hear about leadership courses and you are given power-point slides: this is leadership, this is what you do.

“It is all very generic - but at York it is different. It is about self-reflection, it is about you. Who am I? What are my values?”


Alex, who is from the Wirral and studied Politics added: “We were certainly put through our paces and tested thoroughly - not just on what we have done here at York but on what we are going to do in the workplace afterwards.”

“It involved self-reflecting on what I had done and achieved at York. I will use the skills that I have learnt here in a new environment.”

Further information:

The York Award is a certificate of recognition and reward earned alongside a student's degree course. It combines the demands of academic study, vocational experience and the acquisition of key skills. The York Award, a certificate of employability, is designed to encourage students to participate fully in the great range of opportunities on offer at the University; from volunteering and work experience to clubs and societies. Through a formal application process students are asked to reflect on their personal development and to discuss the skills they have acquired during their time at York.

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