In addition to crossing the stage of the Younger Hall to accept their degree certificates, two extraordinary students were honoured for their ‘outstanding achievements’ by the Principal, Professor Louise Richardson.
New graduates Bennett Collins and Natasha Latysheva were both awarded this year’s Principal’s Medal, which recognises exceptional endeavour and achievement during a student’s time at St Andrews.
Bennett, an International Relations graduate, was awarded for ‘considerable academic achievement and outstanding endeavour in the service of humanity’.
In his award, International Relations graduate Bennett was described as ‘an accomplished scholar, whose academic studies have consistently born witness to his intellectual astuteness, highly-developed skills of critical analysis and independent thought.’
Bennett has also used his time here to develop further his passionate commitment to advocacy relating to social injustice – and in particular the issues of genocide studies and conflict minerals. In 2009, he founded and ran the first UK chapter of STAND, which remains the only student organisation in Scotland whose mission is devoted to raising genocide awareness.
It is due in no small part to Bennett’s unstinting efforts that St Andrews became the first UK university to produce a policy in response to conflict minerals.
Bennett will be heading to Oxford in October to begin a postgraduate degree in African Studies, but prior to that will be spending his summer as a Research Assistant examining the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a landmark process in the quest for improved Native American rights.
Biochemistry graduate Natasha was recognised for her ‘outstanding academic achievements and demonstrable commitment to the rigorous pursuit of knowledge’, as well as her contributions to the intellectual and community life of the University.
In the Principal’s address, she said that ‘it is not an exaggeration to say that Natasha is a brilliant young scholar.’ Natasha’s hard work was rewarded with an exceptional level of success in the School of Biology, where her grades were record-breaking.
In addition to her course studies and her undertaking of extensive extra-curricular research, Natasha also played an active role in the life of the School, contributing to the development of new tutorials for second- and third-year students. Her paper on The evolution of nitrogen fixation in cyanobacteria, published in the top-of-field journal Bioinformatics is used at Biology Visiting Days as an example of undergraduate research success.
Launched four years ago, The Principal’s Medal was inaugurated as a result of the generosity of three anonymous donors. The resulting fund allows the University to reward students who display exceptional endeavour and achievement during their time at St Andrews.
The awards are open to final-year undergraduates, and postgraduates, in any discipline, and the achievements celebrated are academic as well as sporting, musical, or other attainments.
In her presentations, the Principal said she was ‘honoured’ to be given ‘such a wonderful opportunity to recognise, publicly, the outstanding achievements of individual students.’
Issued by the Press Office
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