In this blog Dr Rob James, Senior Lecturer in History, reviews the activities final year student Eleanor Doyle has undertaken as an undergraduate at Portsmouth, for which she deservedly won recognition at the Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence on Tuesday 2nd April 2019. Eleanor was the recipient of a V-C Award for Excellence for all the work she has done enhancing the student experience while simultaneously promoting the university to educational and industry bodies. Also winning a V-C Commendation at the same event was our Dr Karl Bell, Reader in Cultural and Social History, for his work organising Darkfest, an annual creative and cultural festival, and running the Supernatural Cities project (more of both in other posts on this blog).
Since starting her degree studies at Portsmouth Eleanor Doyle has been a highly active member of the History cohort. She has played a significant role in the running of the University of Portsmouth Students’ Union History Society, which was established in 2016. The Society plays a key role in student life – not just to those students who study the subject, but to any student among the University’s cohort who has an interest in history. Eleanor is currently the Society’s President and since undertaking that role she has made a significant impact, encouraging all members to take part in its activities by introducing a number of important innovations that have helped to make it more inclusive. Eleanor has ensured that all activities, including welcome events at the beginning of the year, social gatherings, quizzes and trips to local heritage sites and museums, take place both during the day and evenings to make them accessible to the whole student cohort, including those with caring or family commitments.
Another significant innovation that has developed while Eleanor has been President of the History Society is the expansion of its career-enhancing activities for students. By creating greater links with industry partners, Eleanor has been instrumental in helping to consolidate the success of a ‘Heritage, Arts and Culture Careers Fair’ organised by the Society and held at the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The purpose of the Fair is to showcase employment prospects and open up volunteering opportunities to all undergraduate and postgraduate students. Eleanor has ensured that local feeder colleges are invited, along with a broader range of national cultural organisations. She also created cross-Faculty links by involving CCI in the running of the event. The Fair recently held its third successful event and was very well-attended, providing the opportunity for current University students, visitors from feeder schools and colleges, as well as anyone interested in a career in the heritage, arts and cultural industries to speak with a wide range of professionals.
In addition to these initiatives, Eleanor has engaged in a number of extra-curricular activities that have promoted the University’s values. She is a keen volunteer and has worked for the Mary Rose Museum and the local branch of the Historical Association. Eleanor is currently on the committee of the HA and publicises its events through its social media accounts as well as the social media accounts of the UPSU History Society. She has also participated in a Career and Professional Development event at the Mary Rose Museum with members of the History team, guiding Further Education teachers and museum curators in how to prepare college students for the step up university. She has also acted as a Student Ambassador at the University’s Open Days, and ran a take-over of the History department’s Twitter account, during which she responded to questions about the degree programme and student life. In addition, Eleanor has acted as a student representative, canvassing students’ opinions and attending staff/student consultative committee meetings.
Eleanor is also academically outstanding and has done much to encourage her peers. She is very modest, and would never think that her contributions account for anything, but from what the History team have seen, Eleanor’s work has made a very significant difference to the experience of her friends and fellow students. She has been a lively, friendly and positive presence among the student cohort and thoroughly deserved to be rewarded with a V-C Award for Excellence for all that she has done while studying at Portsmouth. Well done Eleanor. We will miss you when you graduate!
To read more about the V-C Awards for Excellence event and read about all the award winners, click here.