UWE student wins Xcel Humanities Student of the Year award

Issue date: 03 October 2008

Xcel Student Awards 2008 A political refugee from Cameroon, studying at the University of the West of England, has been judged Humanities Student of the Year in the 2008 Xcel awards. These awards, run in conjunction with The Voice, honour the achievements of outstanding ethnic minority students, who are nominated in one of thirteen subject categories by their universities.

Bonaventure Feka Ngode, who is studying for a BA in International Relations and Politics at UWE, was nominated by Jonathan Bradley, Dean of Students, following a recommendation from Jayne Saul-Paterson, Careers Advisor in Student Services Department. The award will be presented to Bonaventure in London at a gala dinner and post-awards party on 6 October, also attended by Jayne and by members of Bonaventure's family.

Jonathan said, “This award is richly deserved and we are delighted with Bonaventure's success.”

Bonaventure tells his story: “I left Cameroon while studying economics at university there in the 1990s. I had become a leader in student protests against the policy of all teaching being in French (the majority language in Cameroon), which disadvantages the country's English-speaking minority. I left in 1997, settled initially in Greece, and became a professional footballer. Injuries cut short this career and I decided to resume my university education.

“As English is my first language, I applied to UWE to study for a BA in Economics and Marketing, initially on a six months' travel visa. I then changed to a BA in International Relations and Politics, which I felt would help me better understand my own country and experiences. I have had to cope with frequent trips back to Greece, to keep my papers in order, which has severely disrupted my studies, but I have remained committed to completing my degree.”

Bonaventure, who has a partner and 6-year-old child, has been working part-time as a home carer to support the elderly and those with learning or physical disabilities in their own homes. Bonaventure also supports disabled students at UWE on a voluntary basis, works in the Student Union shop and as a volunteer with the Red Cross in Bristol, where he is a trained first-aider. Bonaventure would like to continue to post-graduate study, and would like to work for a non-governmental organisation such as the Red Cross or Médecins sans Frontières.

Bonaventure was President of the Cameroon Community in Bristol last year and is active in supporting the cultural and social development of this community. This involves promoting co-operation between other ethnic and cultural groups locally, coordinating fundraising events to support development projects in Cameroon, acting as a translator, and promoting cultural exchange. In the long-term, Bonaventure hopes to return to his own country, and play a part in supporting and developing its people. He speaks English, French, Greek and various Cameroonian dialects.

Editor's Notes

•The Xcel Student of the Year Awards are designed to acknowledge and encourage student achievement among ethnic minority students. For more information visit http://www.xcel.uk.net


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