Students Staff

11 June 2013

Big Essex Celebration highlights achievements of students

Students came together for the Big Essex Celebration to mark the success of the newly introduced Big Essex Award and recognise those who have excelled in extra-curricular activities.

A total of 308 students have completed the Big Essex Award during its pilot year and many were able to attend the glitzy awards evening supported by Santander and held in Level 2 of the Students’ Union.

The award was developed by the Employability and Careers Centre to allow students to log experience and volunteering hours they have completed through the huge range of extra-curricular opportunities available at Essex. This could include volunteering with the vTeam or getting involved in clubs and societies to participating in internships, student enterprises or the University’s unique work placement scheme frontrunners.

Importantly the award is included in a students’ degree transcript so employers can immediately see a graduates extra-curricular achievements while at the University of Essex.

Student Employability and Enterprise Manager Charlie Wheeldon said: “The award team are so proud of each and every student who has completed the award.”

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Standards) Professor Jane Wright told those attending the Celebration: “Working towards the Big Essex Award is a really big commitment and the fact 308 of our students have completed the Award is testament to our amazing students.

“Coming to a Campus university like ours is about much more than studying for your degree. We hope you have had a really educational experience not just within the classroom, but outside the classroom as well.”

To achieve the award students had to log 42 hours of experience, undertake eight hours of volunteering, take part in two workshops and attend two Employability and Careers events.

During this year students logged 23,710 ‘Experience’ hours, 4,640 ‘Volunteering’ hours and 863 Employability and Careers Centre events. The Employability and Careers Centre delivered 62 workshops for students while also checking 319 CVs.

The Employability and Careers Centre is hopeful the scheme will have a long term impact on those who took part.

Feedback has shown:

  • 70 per cent of students who completed the Big Essex Award and our feedback survey, said they were either likely or very likely to continue with voluntary work as a result of the Big Essex Award.
  • 74 per cent of students who completed the Big Essex Award and our feedback survey, said they were either likely or very likely to attend more Employability and Careers Centre events and try another one of our services.
  • 65 per cent of students who completed the Big Essex award and our feedback survey, said they now felt either confident or extremely confident in articulating the skills they have developed through the Big Essex award to employers.

Ten individual awards were made at the Big essex Celebration for ‘Significant Contribution’.

Students with their awards

Students with their awards for significant contribution

Hristina Kamburova - received the award for her contribution to both the Residents’ Support Network (RSN) and sports and societies. As a Residents’ Assistant she received an Excellence in Diversity Award for improving the experience of international students at the University. The RSN Assistant Area Co-ordinator said: “This student has been an excellent RA and has won the outstanding RA award on North Campus every term.”

Richard Howard – recognised for his significant achievements whilst working as a frontrunner. He has proved to be exceptional in his role and has consistently gone out of his way to deliver beyond expectation. His supervisor said: “This person’s contribution to IT training has had a direct impact and we have been absolutely delighted with their performance.”

Viktoria Skrivankova - as a Senior Adviser within the Advice Centre this student has excelled in her customer service and advisory skills. Her supervisor said: “This student is an active volunteer and dedicates a vast amount of their time to helping others.” She has also dedicated much of her time to being president of the Human Rights Society and in this role she has initiated and led the first Essex Human Rights Careers Event.

Holly Ramsey – received her award for her contribution to peer mentoring. Katie Rakow, from Student Support, said: “This student’s enthusiasm, coupled with a strong work ethic is inspirational.” In November this student was also appointed a Senior Student Ambassador and has significantly contributed to the creation of activities for school visits.

Brenda Maleco - Going beyond the scope of her role as a frontrunner led to recognition with this award. Brenda has helped increase the Department of Mathematical Sciences social media presence and reach; taking the initiative and developing innovative ideas. She has written articles that have been published on the Department’s website, and has liaised with the senior staff in the Department to help bring about the success of their projects.

Ioana Oprisa – as a Resident Assistant she has been described as “dedicated, friendly, positive and creative.” Having strived to go the extra mile, her time management skills and ability to finish all assigned tasks quickly and accurately has been noticed by the Assistant Area Coordinator.

Sarah Smith - as Vice President of her sports club Sarah has worked hard to be an exceptional member of the committee and exceed the responsibilities of the post. Over the course of the year, she has helped secure sponsorship for the club, worked hard to keep costs low, and represented the club in several volunteering events.

Silje Eide - has been actively working to incorporate their passion for volunteering into their sports’ club, and was subsequently awarded “Sport Volunteer of the Year” by the vTeam. Whilst volunteering with the Law Clinic and the Students’ Union Advice Centre, she was also able to put into practice the theories learnt in law lectures, recognising how the placements helped her develop many transferrable skills.

Wai Kit Cheah – has been an incredibly active society president and as a volunteer he participated in nearly all of the vTeam one-off projects, completing over 100 hours of voluntary work. Throughout the year he worked with his society to raise over £6,000 for various charities and also organised a fully sponsored fundraising event. He was nominated for four VOscar awards, and awarded the Volunteer Achievement of the Year award.

Katerina Koliovska – has been a very active member of many of the University’s extra-curricular activities. As a frontrunner, Students’ Union staff member, intern and of course a fulltime student, she has shown her ability to manage her time wisely and balance a variety of responsibilities. She was also part of the winning Essex Apprentice team.

To find out more go to: or e-mail:

...more news releases