Human Nutrition and Dietetic student clinches top student award

Fri, 14 May 2021 16:26:00 BST
Elaine Penman with BDA logo
Elaine Penman with BDA logo

A GCU student has been recognised for going above and beyond to promote the dietetics profession.

Third year Human Nutrition and Dietetics student Elaine Penman won BDA Student Champion of the Year, as a result of her work as Student Representative on the organisation’s West of Scotland committee and also in recognition of her passion shown during her time at University.

Elaine, who’s also been involved with the Dietetics Society, explained how delighted she was to win the award and gave more of an insight into her involvement with the BDA.

She said: “I’m really pleased to have won the award and hope it provides encouragement to other students. During your studies you can become blinkered by your University work but these are opportunities to really grow your learning outside your course.

The University provides a great platform for being proactive as a student with GCU Engagement team, Students’ Association, societies and just the course in general. If there’s an idea in anyone’s head, then I’d just encourage them to give it a go!”

Elaine added: “The BDA are our trade body and establish our curriculum. They’re involved with anything food related across the UK, whether that be things like sustainability or childhood obesity. You can actually join the organisation as a student member and they have a lot of fantastic resources available, which are really useful.

I knew there was a Student Representative role coming up and I realised this was a great opportunity to get more involved with the West of Scotland branch. They’re responsible for establishing CPD with members and, with my background, I recognised this as being a good opportunity to use some of the skills I had to provide support.”

It’s been a long journey for Elaine, who decided a number of years ago that she wanted to return to University as a mature student.

She explained: “I’m actually a graduate of GCU. I graduated in 1996 with an Honours degree in Marketing and Communications.

Back in 2015, I had an opportunity to leave my job and start again after selling my family business. I was back to my 17-year-old self, wondering what to do now.

I was really interested in health, wellbeing and food. I’ve also got quite a few friends who are dieticians, so I did some investigating into their role.

Then I decided to go back to college and completed an HNC in Applied Science, which allowed me to apply for the course. It was an amazing stepping stone and even now I still look back at my college notes.

I also worked in pharmacies so that I was having that involvement with the community - which I guess is a slightly different approach in terms of medications VS food, but it’s still focusing on health and wellbeing.”

Elaine’s decision to return to GCU has been rewarded by gaining recognition at a national level from the BDA, but also through the support provided by staff and students.

She explained: “You couldn’t do it without the team behind you. Sometimes when you’re studying, you do actually wonder if you do actually have the ability to do things but I knew there were always support available from staff and other students - which was so important.

It’s great that the department is very encouraging in every aspect and that they’re always keen to promote your achievements in any way possible.”


By Ross Clark
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