English graduate highly commended at Global Undergraduate Awards

English alumna turned Student Success Advisor, Madina Outama, was lucky enough to have her work highly commended at the Global Undergraduate Awards. She tells us about her experience at BCU, attending the awards ceremony and beyond.

How does it feel to have won the Highly Commended award at the Global Undergraduate Awards?

It is one of my proudest achievements as an English student, alongside graduating with my degree. This international academic awards programme recognises top undergraduate work from across the world, and I was thrilled to receive a congratulations email invitation to the summit in Dublin. My essay, produced in my final year of study, was from the Moral Philosophy module. It was titled ‘Is there a morally significant difference between an act and an omission?’ and was recognised for being in the top 10 per cent of the Philosophy category.

How did your degree in English help you to achieve this?

I wouldn’t have been able to produce work of such a standard if it wasn’t for the skills gained throughout my English degree. Studying such a diverse range of literature enabled me to see the sheer scope and versatility of the course, with numerous opportunities to experiment with different ideas and various schools of thought. By the start of my final year, I was eager to deepen my understanding of not only theoretical frameworks used to interpret literature, but their resonance in wider, contemporary society.

Moral Philosophy, although deviating from the standard literature modules, was a higher step up the confidence ladder for me. Although I’d had practise over the last two years with unpacking complex texts and assembling coherent arguments, this module took it to new levels. I participated in ethical debates about climate change and global poverty, which, in turn, fuelled my motivation to produce an essay I was proud of. My confidence in written expression was transposed into verbal expression, which would’ve been unheard of a few years back when I often struggled to clearly articulate my ideas.

Tell us about your experience attending the awards ceremony

The award summit itself was an invaluable experience. Not only did I have the opportunity to meet students from all over the world studying various disciplines, but I also had the chance to engage in conversations about ideas that could truly make an impact on how we see and interpret the world around us. The summit also consisted of keynote speakers who shared their cutting-edge research and the journey they undertook as students to reach a monumental point in their careers. Before attending the awards, I created a poster outlining the key themes of my essay (with visual aids), which was displayed for all the global winners and nominees at a poster exhibition. Seeing the level of interest around my work was fantastic. People asked numerous questions, many of which led me to question my own line of argument and the possibilities for re-evaluation. The atmosphere of curiosity, of enquiry, of challenging arguments and offering suggestions for improvement was dynamic, inspiring and allowed the confidence in my own skills to soar.

Would you encourage others to study an English degree?

Absolutely! This achievement couldn’t have been possible without this English degree and my passion for literature. It demonstrates just how far the skills gained from studying English can take a student, paired with the commitment and motivation to pursue creative ideas. It’s a brilliant journey with a trajectory as far-reaching as you aspire it to be.

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