Tag Archives: Graduation

BEI Prizewinners 2021: Advice and Best Moments

Students receiving an award today from the School of Business, Economics and Informatics share the highlights from their time at Birkbeck and their top tips for success.

Today, postgraduate students in the School of Business, Economics and Informatics will attend their virtual graduation ceremonies alongside the friends, staff and supporters who have been cheering them on throughout their studies.

Today is all about celebrating their success, and from cutting-edge research projects to outstanding module results, our Class of 2021 are an inspiring bunch. We caught up with some of our Spring graduation prizewinners to reminisce over their time at Birkbeck and gain some words of wisdom for our next cohort.

Jay Lee – Best Module Result (Computer Science and Information Systems)

What is your favourite memory of your time at Birkbeck? 

One memorable moment is definitely meeting new friends from different countries along the way and hanging out with them throughout the year! An unforgettable experience.

What advice would you give to current students?

My advice would be remember not to leave things to the last minute, relax and enjoy your time here!

Katherine Stedman – Best CIPD Accredited Programme Student (Organizational Psychology)

What is your favourite memory of your time at Birkbeck?

In the early days of my MSc we had to randomly form groups for one of our first group projects. I didn’t know many people on my course at the time but I’m happy to say that I met some of my greatest course friends through that first project. I wouldn’t have been able to do my MSc without them and I’m looking forward to celebrating with them today!

Thomas Obitz – Best Dissertation (Economics, Mathematics and Statistics)

What is your favourite memory of your time at Birkbeck? 

I was startled when I walked through the department for the first time and saw Hélyette Geman’s name on the door. I knew her books from my daily work, and I could not believe that the most admired name in commodities pricing and trading was teaching at the department where I was going to study. Her derivatives pricing and her commodities lectures were the most insightful I ever attended – she was one of the people who developed the theory, so she could explain the thinking behind it like nobody else. And she is an incredibly nice, open and helpful person.

Lucy Martin – Best Dissertation (Organizational Psychology)

What advice would you give to current students?

Do not underestimate the time it takes to complete a research project and dissertation. The earlier you can come up with a research question and start your literature review the easier it will be to complete.  At the point of write up, I set myself a daily word target to get through, this helped me keep on track in the last busy month before submission alongside my work commitments.

Richard Harrison – Honourable Mention for Best PhD Thesis (Economics, Mathematics and Statistics)

What is your favourite memory of your time at Birkbeck? 

Presenting my work at a seminar for fellow PhD students and staff. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming and even challenging questions were asked in a supportive way. Midway through the seminar I had a “Eureka moment” when I was asked a question that I had never considered before. It led me to a new and productive line of enquiry for my thesis.

Anja Pries – Best Overall Student: Corporate Governance/Responsibility (Management)

What advice would you give to current students?

The process of writing a dissertation can be challenging. You might find yourself struggling to find a topic or getting stuck with your research. I would definitely recommend talking to your fellow students about this. You could set up a group chat or meet at the library to work on your dissertations. Knowing that others were in the same position as me helped me to stay motivated.

 

Ibrahim Alsaggaf – Best Overall International Student (Computer Science and Information Systems)

What advice would you give to current students?

On a Master’s level, My advice is not to study hard as this is a must, but rather about a thing that most students find insignificant, that is module’s prerequisites. In order to make the most of a module, a student needs to be well prepared by assuring that they gain the required prerequisites knowledge at the start of a module. This will boost their learning curve instead of struggling to digest a theory that is based on prior knowledge. To conclude, my advice is to select modules based on their prerequisites and which of them a student has the required knowledge of.

Ero Papadima – Best Management Consultancy and Organizational Change Student (Organizational Psychology)

What is your favourite memory of your time at Birkbeck? 

My best memories at Birkbeck are with the people I met there, usually in one of the many study groups, sharing notes, anxieties and –importantly – snacks! My favourite moment was probably when seven of us were studying around a large table in the group study area of the library; all in different laptops and each working on our own assignment, yet somehow in complete sync, jumping from complete silence to suddenly bouncing off ideas and debating arguments for our essays – all seven of them. There was a lovely sense of belonging in that moment and great comfort in simply not going it alone.

Irina Sidorenko – Best Overall Student: Marketing (Management)

What advice would you give to current students?

I would encourage future Birkbeck students to stay curious and alert during the learning process. During lectures, I used to note even the smallest details that ignited my curiosity and dedicate some extra time to doing some further research around these elements. This is how I have discovered an absolute gem: Professor Olivier Sibai once mentioned in passing that he had attended a talk at the Museum of Brands and that if we had some free time he would recommend us to visit one of the talks at the Museum. I paid attention to his words and up until the Covid pandemic began I tried to never miss a talk at the Museum of Brands, as I hugely enjoy it. So, even the smallest thing, just one small detail mentioned at the Birkbeck lecture can show you a way of upgrading your knowledge and open up new horizons in your professional development.

It is also important to stay calm and not get overwhelmed with emotional pressure when juggling studies, often a full-time job and a long commute, social life and family commitments. It helps to keep in mind that you are in it for a marathon, not a sprint. Break up big tasks into smaller ones and remember: Viam supervadet vadens! (in English: The path will be overcome by the person who walks it). If you can dream it, you can achieve it; always!

Robert Superty – Best Dissertation and Best Overall Student (Computer Science and Information Systems)

What is your favourite memory of your time at Birkbeck? 

Celebrating with the other MSc Computer Science students after the last final in the first year. It was a tough set of exams and it felt like such an accomplishment to get through. Everyone was in such a good mood and it was a great opportunity to get to know people better outside of class.

 

Kieran Jones – Best Dissertation Mark and Best Overall Student: Management/Business (Management)

What advice would you give to current students?

Embrace what you’re passionate about and identify and tackle what you’re bad at. Like a lot of students, I enjoy learning new things which in my studies caused an undisciplined, unstructured approach. To tackle that I spent a lot of time planning. I organised everything from what I was going to learn that week, how I was going to learn, when and how I was going to write my essays and so on. By tackling those things, eventually you get better at what you’re bad at and you can do the things you’re passionate about even better than before.

Congratulations to all our spring 2021 graduates. We wish you all the best in your future careers.

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Changing career paths: from working in criminal justice to lecturing at a university

Janet Omondi studied for a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education from 2019 to 2020 as a tool to aid her career transition from working in the National Probation Service to lecturing at a university. Here is her #BBKgrad story.

Janet Omondi’s story of what led her to study at Birkbeck showcases perseverance and courage after she underwent a complete career change a few years ago, taking the leap to pursue her passions of educating young people about health.

Janet first began her career as a Probation Service Officer for the National Probation Service after completing her first degree in BSc Business Computing. She held the position for seven years but in 2009, she was faced with no option but to give up her job to become a full-time carer for a family member. During this challenging and emotional time, Janet came to the decision that she wanted to change her career and follow her dream of lecturing about health at a university.

In 2012, she began studying BSc Health Promotion at the University of East London, followed by an MSc in Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 2016, she took up a teaching position as a Lecturer in Health Sciences at the University of East London. She came to study a Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education at Birkbeck in 2019 to develop her skill set and knowledge further.

When asked about her experiences of studying at Birkbeck, Janet said: “I quickly developed rapport with my fellow students. I found sitting and learning with a cohort of people that were so passionate about the course too really inspiring. The best thing about Birkbeck is the diversity of students who come from all walks of life, which brings a rich wealth of viewpoints and perspectives, as well as the sharing of cultures and experiences.

“The pandemic hit the UK mid-way through my course, so I had to adjust to the new way of learning online quickly. At first I felt a bit apprehensive, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought, and my classmates and I didn’t experience much technical difficulty at all. The lecturers have been so dynamic, supportive and understanding throughout. Birkbeck responded remarkably well to the pandemic and the transition to online learning was seamless. I now feel very comfortable being on camera when I’m in an online lecture!”

In her spare time, as well as looking after her three children aged 10, 18 and 22, Janet is a Trustee of Riana Development Network, which promotes and delivers community programmes for young people in the UK and overseas. Janet provides crucial guidance by contributing to the charity’s culture, strategic focus, effectiveness and financial sustainability.

In the future, Janet aspires to continue learning and her words of encouragement to others are that “we should continue to learn in all aspects throughout our lives”.

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Top tips on how to make sure you enjoy your virtual graduation

Graduation day is fast approaching, with the ceremonies being held next week from Tuesday 27 to Thursday 29 April. We want to make sure it’s a special day for all of you and those celebrating with you. Here are our top tips on how to make sure you have an enjoyable virtual graduation ceremony. 

Before the day

  1. First thing’s first, check through your email invitation! Your graduation date, time and all other information that you need can be found here! Still have questions? Send us an email at graduation@bbk.ac.uk
  2. Send the team your pictures and stories of your time at Birkbeck – as we’re celebrating virtually this year, we can’t ask you in person about your experience at Birkbeck – so you’ll have to tell us in advance! We’d love to see how you spent your time at Birkbeck. Did you join us straight from school or later in life? Did you work, have caring commitments, or pursue an interesting pastime whilst studying with us? Whatever your Birkbeck story, we would love to hear from you and celebrate the amazing achievements of this year’s cohort!
  3. Gown – order from London’s oldest robe supplier, Ede & Ravenscroft!
    Although you won’t be surrounded by Harry Potter look-alikes this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t recreate the vibe at home! Why not, dress up for the ceremony and if you want to feel like a true graduate, order a gown for the day? You won’t be able to the legendary cap toss without it!
  4. Sort out photography – get a friend or family member to take a photo of you, or get in touch with Ede & Ravenscroft to arrange local photography, you’ll want to make full use of that cap and gown. 
  5. Celebrate with friends and family! Arrange a zoom call or meet in person if you’re able to, plan some nice food and a special drink. Your graduation is a time to reflect on all the amazing things you’ve achieved, with the people that love and care about you! Arrange something with friends and family to make a big deal out of the occasion – because qualifying with a degree is a pretty big deal. If you’re able to, you can have the people who live with you on screen with you during the ceremony.  We recommend having your favourite drink to hand at the ceremony to cheers to your success!

On the day

  1. The most important thing to do on the day is to make sure that everyone (friends, family, anyone who’ll be watching) has the livestream link! You can find this in your joining instructions or at https://www.bbk.ac.uk/student-services/bbk-graduation
  2. Punctuality is also key today – you don’t want to miss anything! Login 15 mins before your ceremony to make sure you’re there for the whole ceremony. Log in details can be found in your email from the graduation team. 
  3. Post some pictures! Once you’ve *officially* graduated and taken those all-important selfies, we’d love if you would share them with us on social media! Tag us and use the hashtag #bbkgrad so that we can celebrate with you all. We have Instagram stories filters to celebrate with, or tag us in your #bbkgrad images. Twitter: @BirkbeckUoL / Instagram: @birkbeckuol / Facebook: @BirkbeckUniversityofLondon
  4. Don’t stress, relax and enjoy the day 😊
    You did it! Time to celebrate!

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“I dedicate my MA to my late mother, who was my rock”

Carolyne Megan graduated last month with an MA in Digital Media Design after caring for her late mother throughout her degree. This is her #BBKgrad story.

Carolyne Megan – © Photo by Joel, Peter Dyers Photographic Studio

I had a thriving career at University College London (UCL), working as a Web/Graphics and E-learning Technologist in Psychology and Language Sciences. I loved my professional career very much. Then in 2013, my father had cancer, so I left UCL to help my disabled mother care for him in his last months.

After my father died in August 2013, I applied to work at Imperial College London in the same role as UCL, but in their ICT department. I was extremely lucky as I was offered a job, and started in October 2013, as I was grief-stricken. After I started at Imperial, I was responsible for keeping my frail elderly mother supported in her home with carers. My main concern was to keep my grieving mother safe in her home and looked after by external social care.

In 2014, I paid for myself to do a Postgraduate Certificate in Web Design and Development at Birkbeck. I had a fantastic time, embracing new skills for my web portfolio. I built a great rapport with fellow students and then later attended the graduation ceremony at Senate House in 2016.

During 2013-2015, my mother’s situation deteriorated, and she was not coping well after my father died so I made a decision to leave Imperial in December 2015. In 2016, I sought low paid temporary Learning Technology jobs and by July 2016, I had reached a crisis with my mother. She was unable to look after herself, so her social worker and I facilitated a move to a good care home that was local to her.

It was an extremely painful process to endure in the summer of 2016, as I had to move my mother’s belongings and clothes into cases and take them from a five-bed detached house to one room in a care home. I was heartbroken for her. I promised her that I would spend three days every month in Sussex visiting her. So that became my routine. I sold her house, auctioned her possessions, gave her clothes to charities, her beloved book collection to refuse collectors as book sellers weren’t interested. It was painful process to go through.

My mother took a few months to settle in the home. She had an IQ of 140, despite being disabled by botched surgery and very frail. After she had settled, I applied for a job at UCL, in the libraries team, which was perfect as I have a love of books! My job involved processing new stock before sending the books to Main Library.

In 2017, I was approached by the Birkbeck School of Arts administrator, to notify me that there was a new MA in Digital Media Design. I was told that my credits from my previous course would enable me to do less modules to get the full MA. I really couldn’t afford it as I was on low pay. But my mother gave me a wonderful gift. She told me that she felt that I had given up my career to care for both her and my late father, and she wanted to pay the fees, so I could continue to ‘stretch my brain’ as she called it.

I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to do an MA, but I jumped at the chance to try. I asked my supervisor if I could do my dissertation in 2018, instead of 2019, and he allowed me to do this. With hindsight this was the best decision I made. I received a Merit for my dissertation and I dedicated it to my mother and gave her a copy of the book. She passed it round to all her visitors and it was full of coffee stains and blotches. She told me she was very proud and we were both emotional.

In February 2019, she was admitted to hospital with a blocked bowel and we were told that she was probably going to pass away. She was such a fighter and was sent back to the care home to be in a palliative care room. She was now unable to get out of bed and had to be turned every two hours. Her life was not really a life. She picked up and managed to carry on until July 2019. She overheard someone say that she was never getting out of the bed, so she stopped her fluids, food and medication and died after two weeks at the age of 95.

I miss her every single day, but I am glad she did not have to live in the year of the pandemic, as we would not have been able to have seen one another.

I dedicate my MA to my late mother, who was my rock.

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