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Volunteer work pays off for Burnley student

17 July 2014

Press Office

Aleesha Begum graduates with a First in Psychology

BSc (Hons) Psychology graduate Aleesha Begum.

A Burnley student who invested hundreds of hours in volunteering work as she studied has graduated from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) with a First Class Honours degree.

Aleesha Begum was one of the highest achievers in UCLan’s School of Psychology, despite dedicating huge amounts of her time to various charities and organisations including the British Red Cross, Barnado’s, Building Bridges and Action for ASD.

The selfless student has even been awarded the v100 award by volunteer organisation vInspired for completing more than 100 hours of voluntary work and making a difference to the community.

However, the 22-year-old feels her hard work has paid off as she’s already secured a job with Walker Prestons Solicitors in Blackburn, after job hunting for just two weeks.

“My volunteer work really motivates me and if anything it pushes me to apply myself to be the best I can be because I know people depend on me.”

Her volunteer work at autism charity Action for ASD was even the inspiration behind her final year project which earned her a grade of 80 per cent, one of the highest scores achieved by a Psychology student.

Aleesha said: “Action for ASD is a resource centre for people with autism and I witnessed first-hand the challenges faced by the parents there. I was interested in the different experiences of different families so for my final project I investigated predictors of parental stress experienced by parents of children with ASD.

“My volunteer work really motivates me and if anything it pushes me to apply myself to be the best I can be because I know people depend on me.”

As well as graduating with first class honours, Aleesha has twice been awarded UCLan’s Academic Achievement Award, beating 300 other students to the top spot.

The award is presented to the student who has achieved the highest grade in their subject at the end of the academic year.

“My plan at the moment is to work my way up in my new job role and to continue with my volunteer work, but I want to return to UCLan at some point to do a PHD. I’d like to use that to do further research into autism.”

Other accolades she has received during her time at UCLan include the nationally recognised Bronze Livesey award for her role as course representative and the Futures Gold award, which involved taking additional modules and exams.

Alongside as her charity and fundraising work, Aleesha has volunteered within the University as a research assistant, a junior university team leader and a peer mentor. She has also reviewed books for the Leadership & Organisation Development Journal.

Aleesha added: “I think the hardest thing was juggling my part-time jobs with all my voluntary roles, my futures gold award and my degree modules. I like to keep myself busy but at times it could be difficult balancing all my responsibilities. However, I wouldn’t change anything about my time at UCLan because I’ve grown so much as a person by taking part in so many different things.

“The best thing about UCLan was meeting so many inspirational and amazing lecturers who went the extra mile for their students. They really helped us to make the most of all the opportunities available.

“My plan at the moment is to work my way up in my new job role and to continue with my volunteer work, but I want to return to UCLan at some point to do a PHD. I’d like to use that to do further research into autism.”

Aleesha was one of a record-breaking 4,600 students who graduated in front of family and friends at Preston’s Guild Hall this week.