Six members of St John’s community honoured in student-led awards
"It's clear students really want to recognise the hard work that staff put in at Cambridge and the difference they make"
The College nurse, four academics and a PhD candidate at St John’s have been shortlisted for awards by Cambridge students for their exceptional contributions to education and pastoral care during the pandemic.
More than 600 students submitted nominations for the annual Cambridge Students’ Union (SU) Student-Led Teaching Awards, which reward best practice and hard work of teaching and support staff across the Collegiate University. Cambridge SU received the largest number of award nominations ever for the past year, particularly highlighting the kinds of teaching and support that students have valued during the Covid-19 crisis.
Announcing this year’s awards shortlist of 45 nominees across nine categories, Cambridge SU stated: “It's clear from all the nominations that students really want to recognise the hard work that staff put in at Cambridge and the difference they make to students' experiences, particularly under the current difficult circumstances.”
The shortlisted nominees from St John’s College are: Emma Manuel, Professor Janet Lees, Dr Tomas Larsson, Dr Georgina Evans, Stefania Costea and Dr Theresa Biberauer.
"I hope I have helped students to bear the weight of the myriad challenges they have faced"
Emma Manuel, Lead Clinical Nurse, said she is ‘chuffed to bits’ to be shortlisted in the category of Student Support by a Member of Non-Academic Staff, something she has been passionate about during her time at St John’s. The nomination is particularly poignant as Emma, who moved into College to live on site during the first lockdown to support those who remained in residence, is leaving St John’s at the end of April having relocated to begin a new life in the North Pennines.
Emma said: “The word support can mean different things to different people, but I hope that I have gone some way in helping students to bear the weight of the myriad challenges faced while at University and advocated, empowered and enabled many to achieve their best versions of themselves both academically and as individuals establishing their identity. I have got to know so many students over my years, all unique with their own story to tell, I will miss so many of them and feel incredibly honoured to have received this recognition.”
“Our students are absolutely fantastic and have been incredibly resilient and engaged"
Professor Janet Lees, who is Professor of Civil Engineering and College Lecturer in Engineering, has been shortlisted in the Lecturer category. She said: “Our students are absolutely fantastic and have been incredibly resilient and engaged during what has been an extremely challenging time. This has been truly inspirational and invigorating while adapting to different forms of educational interaction.
“To have been nominated for a Student-Led Teaching Award is a real honour. It is brilliant that the Cambridge SU and our student body champion these awards and further demonstrates that, even when many of our recent experiences have been remote, we are fundamentally connected across our Collegiate University.”
"Cambridge attracts brilliant postgraduate students and it is a great pleasure and privilege to supervise their research"
Dr Tomas Larsson, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies and College Lecturer in Politics, has been nominated by students in the Postgraduate Research Supervisor category. Dr Larsson, who supervises MPhil and PhD students conducting research on topics related to Southeast Asian political, economic and cultural change alongside teaching and supervising undergraduates, said: “I am very happy and surprised to be nominated for this award. Cambridge attracts brilliant postgraduate students and it is a great pleasure and privilege to supervise their research.”
"I’ve been endlessly impressed by students' insight and creativity"
Dr Georgina Evans, College Lecturer in French, University Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Director of Studies for Modern and Medieval Languages, is delighted to have been shortlisted for the second year in a row. In 2020 she was nominated for Inclusive Practice and this year she makes the shortlist for the Student Support by a Member of Academic Staff category. This award is for outstanding student welfare and pastoral support from a member of staff whose primary relationship to the nominating student is academic.
Dr Evans said: “I’m very touched to be shortlisted for this award, all the more so in a year when things have been so difficult for everyone. It’s a joy to work with students, and that is still very true despite the many challenges we have all faced, including, in my case, homeschooling! We’ve had to think together about how to do things, and I’ve been endlessly impressed by the students’ insight and creativity."
"2020/21 has taught us that ‘I believe in you’ and ‘I am always here for you’ are two sentences that can cause miracles"
Stefania Costea, a PhD candidate in the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics, was also delighted to be shortlisted in the category of Student Support by a Member of Academic Staff. She said: "2020/21 has taught us all that ‘I believe in you’ and ‘I am always here for you’ are two sentences that can cause miracles. While only my name appears on the list, there is a whole ‘team’ behind this nomination: my current supervisor, Professor Adam Ledgeway, who, since 2018, has showed me how to always be open with students and ready to help them; the students I have had the chance to supervise, who have proven to be extremely brave and kind during this academic year; and Cambridge SU for organising these awards. And I think this should be the moment when I thank them all."
"This shortlisting is a beautiful reflection of the enthusiasm, commitment and mutual respect my students and I have brought to our work together"
Dr Theresa Biberauer, External Director of Studies (Linguistics) and College Teaching Associate (Linguistics) at St John’s, is ‘thrilled’ to be recognised for her work with students in the Small Group Teaching (Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences) category. Dr Biberauer, who is a Fellow at Churchill College and also Director of Studies in Linguistics at Churchill, Corpus Christi, Lucy Cavendish, Magdalene, Robinson and St Edmund’s Colleges, is an alumna of St John's. She said: “This shortlisting would count as a huge highlight for me in any year; coming in a year that has required and continues to require so much adaptability, courage and resilience from the students I have had the opportunity to work with, it’s even more special. I see it as a beautiful reflection of the enthusiasm, unwavering commitment and mutual respect my students and I have brought to our work together this year. The pandemic has not been able to undermine that.”
Winners of the 2021 Student-Led Awards will be announced during a virtual ceremony to celebrate all the teaching and support staff on Thursday 13 May, 6.30pm-7.15pm.
* Winners named
Professor Janet Lees and Dr Theresa Biberauer were both named winners in the virtual Cambridge SU Student-Led Teaching Awards on 13 May. Professor Lees came first in the Lecturer category while Dr Biberauer won the Small Group Teaching award in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences.
The awards were co-hosted by Siyang Wei and Esme Cavendish, both Access, Education and Particpation Officers at Cambridge SU.
Professor Lees, whose category was introduced by undergraduate student Isobel Sayer, said: “I was deeply humbled to have won this award. The Cambridge SU ‘live’ online awards ceremony was fantastic and Siyang and Esme were great co-hosts. A particular highlight for me was to hear students speaking about their nominations. The strength, positivity and kindness of our students and so many others in our Collegiate University was truly moving and inspirational.”
Dr Biberauer also described the event as ‘enormously inspiring and moving’. Her category was introduced by Núria Bosch Masip, a second-year Linguistics undergraduate at St John’s. Dr Biberauer said: “You can't really be ‘prepared’ for a speech where in every respect a remarkable student sets out what she and her peers value about the way you try to do the work you get to do with them. It feels somehow wrong for me to be the one winning an award when the students I am working with are so key to everything Núria described.
“I wouldn’t be able to generate the energy, the excitement or the extraordinary levels of achievement if my students were not up for diving into the work we do together in the way they do - even in the middle of a pandemic. I often say language is intriguing because it's evidently much more than the sum of its parts; supervision here is the same. So ‘my’ award also belongs to the students I’ve had the privilege to work with this year.”