The Chester Difference Award (CDA) is a fantastic opportunity. The award offers all students the chance to become accredited for their commitment to a series of interesting, enjoyable and constructive events. Mahnoor Salam and Matthew Banks, two final year undergraduates, have worked their way up to the award’s highest tier, The Chester Difference Excellence award, and have been appointed CDA Student Ambassadors.
The CDA encompasses students’ involvement in a range of activities. What have you participated in?
Mahnoor: Through UniJob, I got a job as a Research and Development Assistant and have attended Enhance Your Employability (E.Y.E) training sessions. I have held several voluntary positions, which include being elected as a Student Academic Representative (StAR) twice for both Level 4 & 5, being a ‘Red T’ volunteer at open days, and being both a Peer Mentor and an e-Mentor. I am also currently undertaking an ECDL qualification.
Matthew: I too have taken part in a number of extracurricular activities, ranging from becoming an Accommodation Ambassador in my first year, completing Volunteering awards, and – like Mahnoor – becoming a CDA ambassador.
How has getting involved with these activities personally benefitted you?
Mahnoor: Volunteering is something I really enjoy. It’s safe to say that it has become a crucial part of my life as I am on my toes at all times. It has not only given meaning to my life but also nurtured my personality immensely. I was once shy and reserved but volunteering has made me the confident person I am today by encouraging large amounts of interaction with various people.
Matthew: Through this role I got to meet many new people I otherwise wouldn’t have met. I also found the confidence I was looking for as I enjoyed the challenge of leading groups of students and parents and answering their questions. My ability to think on my feet and my public speaking skills, increased greatly through undertaking this role, which has benefitted me within my degree when taking part in presentations as I have become confident enough to present my argument and state my case.
What would you tell students who haven’t yet signed up for the CDA?
Matthew: When I graduate I want to look back at my time at Chester and know I did everything I could to give me the best chance of doing what I want to do in my life. The CDA recognises and rewards the activities you complete off your own back, but it’s also a springboard for new experiences. The E.Y.E sessions, for instance, teach you invaluable skills such as office admin and project management which you may not otherwise gain.
Mahnoor: The CDA is something each student should consider. It’s a fantastic award that collaborates various achievements into one robust certificate. But it’s not just about collecting points – it’s a way of exploring your potential through a series of activities.
Want to start #yourjourney?
Simply visit our website here for more information and to sign up. You can also like our Facebook page (The Chester Difference Award) or follow us on Twitter (@CDA_Team).