Skip to content


In my previous blog, I referenced my decision to change careers from the legal sector to learning disability nursing (this is my second time at university having previously completed a Bachelor of Laws Degree). Having put a lot of thought into the decision to return to university, I was left with a second decision: if I was going to be a nurse, what type of nurse did I want to be? I realised that I wanted to do everything I could to help my future patients. My previous work in the legal sector made me aware of the interest employers have in the things people do outside of their studies. Most people will end up with a first or a second-class degree, so to stand a chance of getting my preferred job I knew I would need to make myself standout. I, therefore, decided to look into every opportunity to demonstrate and develop my skills and attributes.   

Volunteering Award Scheme

One of the opportunities that attracted my attention was the University of Chester Volunteering Award Scheme. The scheme is open to all staff and students of the University of Chester, to recognise and support all volunteering commitments and achievements. I was already volunteering with Liverpool Samaritans and St John the Baptist Church, Great Meols, when I started the course and felt that as long as it did not interfere with my ability to complete the BN (Hons) Learning Disability Nursing course, it would be valuable to continue. So, I signed up to the scheme. Doing so has not only highlighted more opportunities to volunteer but also helped me to identify the skills I use and have developed through volunteering. I have also been able to improve my portfolio with certificates; by achieving, bronze, silver, gold, platinum and platinum plus awards, and have attended two highly enjoyable awards ceremonies so far. Through my work as a volunteer and contact with the University of Chester Volunteering Team, I was also fortunate to be a Finalist for the University of Chester Charities Choice Award.

Chester Difference Award

The Chester Difference Award also sounded interesting when I heard about it. It is a points-based employability award that aims to provide recognition for students who take part in a variety of extra-curricular activities during their time as a student. The aims and values of the award, to help University of Chester students stand out, seemed to be a perfect match for what I wanted to do. I was initially a little apprehensive about the points required, however I found it to be far more manageable than I first thought. Spending some time examining the options enabled me to form an effective plan, as lots of the things that could give me points were things that either I had done or was interested in doing. I found the study skills sessions, which are incorporated into the awards, to be very useful and I had already started a LinkedIn profile during my time working for Lloyds Banking Group. With a little adaption, my LinkedIn profile gained me a point.  I was able to achieve the silver volunteering award, which was worth 2 points, within 2 months. The Chester Difference Award and the University of Chester Volunteering Awards both work by progressively accumulating points. I was keen to achieve the highest levels possible whilst at Chester and much to my surprise have manged to achieve this by the end of Year 2.

Student Rep and Peer Mentoring

I gained further points towards the Chester Difference Excellence Award through becoming a Student Rep and Peer Mentor. As mentioned in my previous blog, one of the best aspects of undertaking the BN (Hons) Learning Disability Nursing course at the University of Chester, is the friends I have made. They encouraged me to become a Student Rep, representing the student voice within the programme, and a Peer mentor, welcoming and supporting new students when they commence their studies. During my first year, I also joined the Devability Society for students with visible and invisible disabilities, and during the summer I was honoured to be asked to take up the position of President. Being flexible and accepting this new challenge again gave me points towards the award and enabled me to use and develop my skills (my time management and organisational skills have been particularly tested!). It has also opened up many new opportunities; I have had the privilege of working with members of the Student Futures team and the Disability Support Officers and have been very fortunate to be nominated for further awards. I was a finalist for the Student National Congress 2019 student award and for the RCNI Andrew Parker Student Nurse Award 2019. I won the Faculty of Health and Social Care Special Recognition Award, and an Ede and Ravenscroft Prize for Excellence. I was also able to successfully apply for funding for my charity work. Whilst I had to work hard for these nominations, I truly feel that exploring the opportunities to demonstrate my skills and abilities has significantly contributed to my nominations. 

I am convinced that trying to make the most of the opportunities presented to me has significantly improved my time at university and has made me a better student and a better person. I am not trying to suggest that you should do exactly what I have done; everyone has their own path with their own circumstances. However, I hope that this encourages you to look into what you can do to make yourself stand out. Make the most of the opportunities offered to you as a University of Chester student and particularly make sure you are getting full credit and recognition for what you are already doing. By doing so I have had an amazing year, and you could too.

Share this content

Undergraduate Visit Opportunities

Whether you’re looking to start in 2019 or 2020, there are plenty of opportunities to visit us.