‘Outstanding’ students win Larmor Awards for studies and community work

‘Intellectual qualifications, moral conduct and practical activities’ recognised

A powerlifter and a charity campaigner are among five graduates of St John’s to be honoured with 2023 Larmor Awards for their exceptional academic work and contributions to College life and beyond.

The awards began in the 1940s to recognise ‘intellectual qualifications, moral conduct, or practical activities’ and are named after Sir Joseph Larmor, a 20th-century physicist and mathematician who was both a student and Fellow at St John’s.

This year’s winners are 2023 graduates Sarah Adegbite, Yasmin Homer, Mia Myers, Katie O’Flaherty and Hetty Opayinka. They were each presented with a unique piece of silver, designed by a contemporary British silversmith, at a special ceremony at the Master’s Lodge on Friday 19 January. Heather Hancock, Master of St John’s College, handed out the awards, which also included a financial prize. 

“One of the most exceptional Theology students we have ever had”

Sarah Abegbite receives her prize from Heather Hancock
Sarah Adegbite receives her prize from Heather Hancock, Master of St John's College. Credit: Nordin Ćatić.

Sarah Adegbite is described by Professor Nathan MacDonald, her Director of Studies, as ‘by far one of the most exceptional Theology students we have ever had’. “This is not only due to her stunning tripos results but her extra-curricular involvement in the College, Faculty, and wider Cambridge community.”

Sarah consistently ranked at the top of her tripos and was awarded the University’s Theological Studies Prize in 2022 and 2023, and the Lightfoot Prize in 2023, when she gained a first-class degree with distinction.

She was Co-President of the JCR undergraduate committee and was involved with outreach for both the College and Faculty of Theology. Sarah also volunteered to work with children at her Cambridge church, Holy Trinity, and contributed to various other community initiatives.

“A once in a blue moon student”

Yasmin Homer with Prof Mete Atature and Dr Sylvana Tomaselli
Yasmin Homer with Professor Mete Atatüre and Dr Sylvana Tomaselli. Credit: Nordin Ćatić.

Historian Yasmin Homer is described as a ‘once in a blue moon student’ with an exceptional academic record, achieving first-class marks in Part I and first-class with distinction in her overall degree (Part II), ranking comfortably within the top 10 per cent of the tripos. Her Tutor, Professor Mete Atatüre, said: “Her supervisors consider her among the best students they have taught in many years, and her supervision reports frequently descend into a list of superlatives.”

Beyond her studies, Yasmin was active in College and University life, particularly in areas regarding access and social welfare. She served as a CAMbassador – mentoring students from underrepresented backgrounds applying to the University – and wrote for Cambridge University Amnesty International. Yasmin also took co-curricular German lessons during her degree. 

“An extraordinary level of motivation and positive mind-set”

Mia Myers with Fellow Prof David Stuart
Mia Myers with Professor David Stuart. Credit: Nordin Ćatić.

Mia Myers ‘greatly impressed’ her Tutor and Director of Studies for her academic and intellectual ability. She achieved first-class marks every year in the Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Tripos.

Mia is involved in charitable work centred around disabilities, particularly her own condition, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). She is involved with SMA UK, a charity working with young people diagnosed with SMA and their families. She has helped provide support materials for children with SMA, contributed to books, written articles and been a mentor, as well as produced and presented a podcast. Mia also hosted a webinar discussing new drug developments with medical experts.

With a passion for health psychology, Mia was accepted for an MSc at UCL. “Mia is keen to contribute to positive change, particularly in health-related inequalities across communities and cross-culturally and to develop ways of supporting individuals in clinical practice, using health psychology as an enabler for these ambitions,” said her Tutor, Professor David Stuart.

“With her academic ability, organisational skills and extraordinary level of motivation and positive mind-set, I believe Mia will be able to do much to develop and further improve the standards of healthcare of all kinds offered to those with long-term debilitating illnesses, as well as providing an inspiration by showing by example what can be achieved in spite of the very great challenges.”

First-class scientist, volunteer, sportswoman and singer

Katie O'Flaherty with the Master Heather Hancock
Katie O'Flaherty is presented with her prize by Heather Hancock. Credit: Nordin Ćatić.

Katie O’Flaherty achieved first-class results throughout her Materials Science degree. She was involved in multiple extra-curricular activities, including volunteering at Cambridge’s Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences, and singing in Aquila, the College’s a cappella female vocal group.

Katie, who was nominated for a Larmor Award by her Tutor, Dr Sylvana Tomaselli, was also a treasurer for BlueSci (the University science magazine) and co-founded a company in 2020. In sport, she rowed for the Lady Margaret Boat Club W1 team and was a member of Cambridge University Powerlifting Club, for which she was placed fourth nationally in her weight category.

Since graduating, Katie has been working as a junior biomaterials engineer. She has also taken part in a weightlifting competition in Slovenia – the eighth World University Powerlifting Cup – and has hit her personal best, deadlifting 145kg.

Excellent student ambassador and director with drive and organisational skills

Hetty with Dr Morag Morrison-Helme Larmor Awards
Hetty Opayinka with Dr Morag Morrison-Helme. Credit: Nordin Ćatić.

Hetty Opayinka was an ‘excellent’ student who obtained first-class results every year of her studies in Education, Policy and International Development. She instigated the launch of The Dobson Society for Education, and was its first President. Hetty was influential in bringing together undergraduate and postgraduate Education students and the society had a successful launch night that included the unveiling of the visiting ‘Mudcub’ sculptures.

Hetty’s Director of Studies Dr Morag Morrison-Helme and Tutor Professor Amanda Sferruzzi-Perri said her ‘drive and organisational skills’ also saw her involved in launching the University’s Black Advisory Hub, directing plays at the ADC and Corpus Playroom, and being Assistant Director for the Marlowe Society’s Showcase in Cambridge and London.

A member of the African-Caribbean Society and FLY (a forum for women and non-binary people of colour), Hetty was also valued by the Admissions team for being a student ambassador, promoting a positive and inclusive culture in College. 

Larmor Awards winners 2023 with the Master Heather Hancock
The 2023 Larmor Awards winners with Heather Hancock. Credit: Nordin Ćatić.

Published 22/01/2024

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