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How I Overcame Self-Doubt as a Mature Student to become a George Moore Scholar

Emma Shaw, George Moore Scholar

Queen’s graduate Emma Shaw was awarded the George Moore Scholarship in 2020 to study an MA in Educational Policy and Planning at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. Here, she talks about overcoming health problems and insecurity to follow her dream.

 “I completed my undergraduate in International Politics and Conflict Studies at Queen’s and graduated ‘virtually’ in July 2020 with a 2:1, and was also awarded the Best Improved Performance Award between levels 2 and 3,” says Emma, whose path to success was not easy.

Imposter Syndrome

“I returned to education as a mature student and a single mum with two children.” 

Among her biggest challenges was just getting through the first year – a time when both she and her daughter experienced health problems. “First year was definitely one of the most challenging, both myself and my daughter had health issues, but I persevered and made use of the services offered at the University.”

Despite her ability, Emma admits she was plagued with self-doubt. “I had this feeling that I didn’t belong and that maybe I wasn’t good enough, I continuously doubted myself.”

Finding my confidence

By second year, Emma had made a conscious decision to engage more with campus life. 

“In my second year at Queen’s I made the decision to run for HAPP School Representative and became more active on campus. I would go on to also be the AHSS Faculty Rep and Part-time Mature Student Officer,” she says.

If you are struggling with life at university, Emma has this advice

“University can be a lonely place and it’s easy to get caught up in the pressure of it all. Some of the best advice that I could give to other students would be to find your tribe, whether it’s a small group of study buddies keeping you on track or becoming active in a club or society or even both, it’s important that you engage with your peers both for moral and mental support.”

Scholarship success

Before being awarded the prestigious George Moore Scholarship, Emma began to pursue her passion for inclusive education. “In my final year, I conducted independent research seeking to understand the viewpoints of young people ages 11-16 on higher and further education. My focus was on schools based in my community of East Belfast and what the barriers were that young people faced when thinking about their next steps in education.”

Currently completing her MA at the University of Texas, Emma’s home community is at the forefront of her mind. “When I return to Belfast, my aim is to found a non-profit community based organisation that will tackle some of the barriers faced by the community in terms of educational underachievement.”

We’re confident Emma will succeed in whatever she chooses to do next. 

To find out more about the George Moore Scholarship, don’t miss our information session on 4 November at 1.30pm. 

Register here

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Queen’s Graduate Champions Low-Income Students to Aim High

Michael Dallat, one of the first cohort of Lloyds Scholars at Queen’s, is honoured as a social mobility student champion, as he graduates with a BA in Film and Theatre Making 

Michael Dallat, a Film and Theatre Making graduate from Queen’s has been honoured as a runner up in the Lloyds Scholars Champion Award 2020. Michael was nominated alongside scholars from leading universities across the UK and scooped the £1,000 runner up prize in recognition of his work championing the social mobility programme to future applicants.

Queen’s University has been a proud partner of the award-winning Lloyds Scholarship programme since 2016. Designed to support and encourage students from below average income families to study at leading universities, the programme offers students a complete package of financial support, paid internships, business mentorship and the opportunity to develop their employability skills.

As a member of one of the first cohort of Lloyds Scholars at Queen’s, Michael has undertaken two internships, completed over 100 hours of volunteering and secured a place on the Lloyds Graduate Programme for 2020.

Michael Dallat Lloyds

He said: “As a working-class lad from Coleraine, this award makes me very proud. To be in a position to inspire others is something that is really humbling for me. When I applied for the Scholars program back in school, I never thought I’d be a figurehead who others look up to. 

“The Lloyds Scholars programme is a fantastic package. The internships, volunteering and access to a mentor have been immensely beneficial for my career prospects. The internships have allowed me to develop new skills, and network with lots of driven and inspiring individuals. It has really changed my life, on both a personal and professional level.”

Wilma Fee, Director of Academic and Student Affairs at Queen’s, said Michael has inspired hundreds of students to apply for the programme over his three-year tenure. 

She said: “We are proud that Michael has been recognised as a true ambassador for the Lloyds Scholarship programme. As the lead Lloyds representative at our annual Widening Participation Open Days, Queen’s Open Days and University Offer Holder Days between 2017 and 2020, Michael spoke openly and honestly to groups of over 300 students, enthusiastically answering any questions they had and sharing his own personal stories and experiences. Michael has helped raise awareness of the Lloyds programme and raised the aspirations of hundreds of our students.”  

Congratulating Michael, Professor David Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students said: “I first met Michael in October 2017 when he spoke exceptionally well at the launch of Lloyds Scholars at Queen’s and have followed his progress with pride. Shaping socially conscious and successful graduates sits at the heart of Queen’s and being honoured as a runner up in the Lloyds Scholars Champion Award 2020 is testament to the valuable difference Michael has made. It’s fantastic to see how the experience has benefitted Michael and that it has had such a significant impact on his personal development.”

“On behalf of everyone at Queen’s, I congratulate Michael for graduating and I wish him well as he embarks on the Lloyds Graduate Programme.” 

Discover the Lloyds Scholars programme