Member of the Wellbeing Team is recognized for outstanding Disability support for GCU Students  

Thu, 01 Jul 2021 16:19:00 BST
(Pictured above) Teaching Awards 2021 logo & Mel McKenna
(Pictured above) Teaching Awards 2021 logo & Mel McKenna

GCU Students' Association recently held their annual Teaching Awards – an event hosted to recognise GCU's outstanding learning and teaching staff.   

The Teaching Awards gives students the opportunity to celebrate teaching and non-teaching staff members who have made a positive impact on their learning experience.   

The Super Support Award (Non-Teaching staff) was presented to Mel McKenna for providing outstanding support as a Disability Advisor for the GCU Wellbeing Team.  

We spoke to Mel to find out their response to winning the award:  


Has being nominated for a Teaching Award impacted you in any way? If so, how?  


“Being nominated for a Teaching Award, particularly at this time, gave me a confidence boost and was a really nice way to end the academic year.  
I wasn't expecting it, so it was a very pleasant surprise! I always take pride in my work and feel confident in what I do as a Disability Advisor, but being nominated by a student/students in recognition of this made me feel appreciated.”  


What are some of the things you’ve been involved in this academic year with students that led to you being nominated for this award?  

 “This academic year I have continued to work in my role as a Disability Advisor, providing ongoing information, support and advice to disabled and neurodiverse students.  

I organise and run two pre-entry programmes for incoming students - Mental Health Matters, and the Summer Transitions Programme for autistic students. I also do a lot of other work around equality, particularly in relation to Trans awareness and anti-racism.” 


What has it been like supporting students virtually this year as opposed to having face-to-face meetings?  

“Supporting students virtually instead of face to face definitely has pros and cons. It took a little bit of time to get used to working virtually, but once you get used to communicating in this way it gets easier. I feel there has been better student engagement and there has definitely been more consistency in terms of students attending appointments, which is a real positive.  
For some students, meeting online is much more accessible and preferable, and would likely want to continue to meet in this way in the future. For others, it does create a barrier as some students do not feel comfortable speaking over audio or being on a video call, which can impact on our ability to engage and effectively provide those students with the support they need.  
I do think meeting online is more tiring, and staring at a screen all day can be exhausting, so it is important to maintain boundaries and take regular breaks away from the screen.”  


Is there anyone you would like to thank for this recognition you have received from The Students’ Association? 

 “I would just like to thank whoever nominated me! It is much appreciated. Also the wider Student Wellbeing Team - I work with many great colleagues who make working in this team enjoyable, even when it gets stressful!  

Having supportive colleagues and a team that is inclusive, open and welcoming makes all the difference.”  


The list of Teaching Award winners is available on the Students’ Association website   


By Rachael McAlonan   
Got a SCEBE or GSBS story? Email me at or connect with me on social media  here