Winning A University Medal.

Winning A University Medal.

The pursuit of excellence is alive and well at UNE.  Our students are dreaming big and achieving HUGE!  

Meet Rachel Chesham, an external psychology honours student and winner of a 2018 University Medal for academic excellence; a testament to years of hard work and great accomplishment.

Here is my interview of Rachel, slightly edited:

Rachel, can you share with us your thoughts and reactions when you were first notified of winning this award?  Did it come as a surprise?

“I was already extremely happy with being awarded the APS [Australian Psychological Association] Prize upon the completion of my honours year [for top 4thyear psychology graduate at UNE], but of course I was surprised and delighted when the news about a university medal came through. It is recognition of consistent good results, which I worked very hard to achieve -- there is great satisfaction in that. 

Your family and friends are happy too?

My family and friends have been very supportive throughout my undergraduate course and are all very happy for me. To my knowledge I am the first person in my family to receive such recognition at the tertiary level, so I think my parents are particularly proud of me”

It certainly is a wonderful feather in one’s cap! So, what does winning the University Medal mean to you personally?

Winning a university medal feels wonderful and is partly a testament to my supervisor and his support during my honours year. Good supervision is a crucial element and I would encourage undergraduates approaching their honours year to keep one eye on thesis topics and supervisors they will be comfortable with and inspired by

In my mind, an honours thesis is really about process -- learning to put together a document that stands up to scrutiny. Obtaining significant and interesting results which can be further built upon, as was the case for my thesis, is the cherry on top so to speak. Again, I’m delighted to have been awarded this prize which makes all the hard work seem even more worthwhile. I am sure this recognition will serve me well as I pursue a career in psychology.”

What advice can you give to current undergraduates who may one day love to be where you are today?

“I recommend over the first few years of your studies that you become familiar with who the members of your faculty are, their areas of interest and who of them could likely end up being your supervisor. The more you know about them and have contact with them, the more likely you are to make an informed decision when choosing a thesis topic and supervisor.

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In terms of advice to students who would like to tread the same path, I would say be prepared for a number of years of hard work. Ultimately it will be personally rewarding and hard work early on that provides a solid foundation for further study. If you need to work to support yourself financially as I did, try your best to find a suitable job. Living close to work, having a flexible roster/boss etc -- these are little things that can make life easier when you’re coping with your university workload.” 

That’s very good advice. Do you have any final comments to the up-and-coming students here at UNE?

“If you work hard, don’t forget to reward yourself occasionally!”

Written by: Anne Wisniewski

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