Student volunteer lands double award

02 April 2014

GCU student Myo Htet

GCU student Myo Htet

A GCU student who dedicates his spare time to helping diabetes patients has received two national awards.

Myo Htet, who is currently studying MPhil/PhD Diabetes in Pregnancy at the School of Health and Life Sciences, won the Raising Awareness and Janet Rae Best Volunteer prizes at the Diabetes UK Volunteer Awards last week.

The awards, presented at the Marriott Hotel in Glasgow, were given to Myo because he “contributed time, energy and help” to support people with diabetes or people at risk of diabetes.

Having worked closely with diabetes patients while serving an internship as a medical doctor in his birth country of Myanmar, Myo moved to Glasgow to study MSc Diabetes Care and Management at GCU in a bid to advance his knowledge.

He said: “I met a lot of people with diabetes during my internship and realised it is a chronic condition which gives rise to many complications. It needs not only drug therapy but also psychological and counselling support to achieve a better outcome.

“I came to GCU because I wanted to study diabetes. Only a few universities in the UK run diabetes programmes and I thought the course structure at GCU is integrated and comprehensive, so I chose to study here.”

While Myo’s PhD looks primarily at the role of diabetes during pregnancy, one of his lecturers suggested he could use his wider knowledge to help others on a voluntary basis.

Myo said: “He advised me that I could get much more experience by volunteering at Diabetes UK, so I decided to contact them.

“I volunteer there as a risk assessor and identify people's risk of developing diabetes according to a scoring system. I refer the moderate and high-risk people to see a GP so that interventions such as lifestyle and dietary changes can be carried out to avoid them developing diabetes later in their lives.”

Myo said that a volunteer doesn’t necessarily have to be medically qualified or trained to offer their time.

He said: “Most volunteers are diabetes patients or friends and relatives of diabetes patients. One can volunteer in many different aspects, such as fundraising, counselling, or research.

“Volunteering is very beneficial for me because I get the chance to counsel people and realise their psychological needs. I can apply the knowledge that I have practically.”

David Cochrane, the lecturer who advised Myo to volunteer, said: “I am delighted that Myo has been given this award. He has shown a great passion for advancing diabetes care, particularly in relation to the psychosocial and educational challenges that diabetes patients face.

“It’s inspiring he has undertaken this work while diligently continuing his studies at GCU. I'm sure Myo will be a great ambassador for us and will use his skills to have a wider impact on those who face the daily challenges of diabetes around the world. We are all very proud of his achievement.”

Myo received his Best Volunteer Award from Janet Rae, a diabetes patient who has been taking insulin for more than 80 years - believed to be the longest duration in the UK. The award is named in her honour.