Precious awarded Outstanding Student prize

  • 11 February 2022

Gonville & Caius College finalist Precious Ndukuba (Architecture 2019) has been honoured by the Cambridge Centre for Teaching and Learning by winning an Outstanding Student Contribution to Education Award.

The awards are made to “recognise the contribution that students make to enhancing educational practices at the University of Cambridge”, with five categories in 2021: Representation; Access and Outreach; Inclusive Practice; Peer Support; and Innovative Practice. The winners were announced on February 4.

Alumni Rachel Fox (Medicine 2015) and Emily Wilson (Medicine 2015) were highly commended in the Innovative Practice category “for designing and developing a new e-learning module for fourth-year medical students on ‘Professionalism on Social Media’”.

Precious was nominated by her Director of Studies, Caius Fellow Dr Nicholas Simcik Arese, as well as Ingrid Schröder (Director of MPhil and Tripos) and James Campbell (Head of Architecture), and was recently notified of the nomination and her success.

She says: “It was a bit of a shock. My DoS nominated me and as part of the award you get to read the nomination. All the things listed are true, but I hadn’t realised he’d noticed me doing those things. It was lovely and very heart-warming, but overall surprising.”

Dr Simcik Arese wrote in his nomination: “It is not an understatement to say that Precious has been an inspiring, transformational, and probably universally loved force (as well as a superb student/supervisee) in the Department of Architecture and at Caius. She is mature beyond her years, and has a unique ability to draw people together who one would not expect could be drawn together.”

In his nomination, Dr Simcik Arese outlined Precious’ impact at Caius and the Department of Architecture, praising her outstanding participation for inclusive practice, innovative practice and outreach, all while negotiating the Covid-19 pandemic and achieving an average mark of First.
Precious, who is of Nigerian descent, put herself forward to be a student representative in the Department of Architecture her first year, advocating for more proactive outreach and inclusive representation, while also volunteering to speak with applicants and proposing “inspired suggestions to make the Department a more welcoming place”.

It’s a boost to get the award, but I would’ve done it anyway. These issues are things I care about past awards

Precious Ndukuba

She was “instrumental” in establishing the department’s ‘Decolonise the curriculum’ student-staff committee, creating a talk series for prominent Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic or Global South practitioners and organising fortnightly workshops. Precious co-proposed amendments which the Head of Department will now implement, including the restructuring of History of Architecture in Year One to become ‘History of European Architecture’, a course that will sit alongside a new course, ‘History of Underrepresented Architectures’.

Additionally, Precious created a series of resource sharing videos and co-mentoring space for collaborations between undergraduates and postgraduates within Architecture.

At Caius, Precious was one of three students who led the movement to remove the Fisher Window, which proved the catalyst for further reforms and increased representation in the College. She was also the only Caius student featured in the MCR’s Human Perspectives Exhibition, held in October to promote representation.

“Doing activism and advocating for educational change is really tiring, but there’s something really nice about knowing people appreciate it,” Precious adds.

“It’s a boost to get the award, but I would’ve done it anyway. These issues are things I care about past awards.

“In one way the pandemic has been a massive hindrance, but it’s a great help in that it has forced people to sit and listen.”

Emily and Rachel's interactive e-learning module involved four sections: a choose-your-own-adventure-style story, a written guidance section from medical authorities, a ranking question section for students to test their knowledge and understanding, and an interactive case study adapted from an example case provided by the General Medical Council.

They asked fourth year medical students in 2019 and 2020 to complete questionnaires before and after completing the module to see what impact it had in their confidence on social media, and adjusted the module according to their feedback.

The module now forms part of the medical school Professionalism course, and following on from our findings in the questionnaires, they are in the process of carrying out a qualitative interview study investigating medical students’ perceptions of professionalism on social media and how these are affected by our module.

Emily is currently a Foundation Year 1 doctor living and working in Oxford, and Rachel now an academic foundation year 1 doctor living and working in North London.

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