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Inspiring LLC staff shortlisted for Colleague Recognition Awards

We chat to Nadin Akta, Celeste-Marie Bernier, Fiona Carmichael and Christine Lennie about being nominated by their peers for their contribution to our community.

Four inspiring team members in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC) have been shortlisted in this year’s Colleague Recognition Awards for the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Edinburgh.

Logo for Colleague Recognition Awards

Nadin Akta, Celeste-Marie Bernier, Fiona Carmichael and Christine Lennie have been shortlisted from over 500 nominations across the College, including for 23 individuals and eight staff teams in LLC.

Relaunched in 2020, and open to staff across all 12 Schools in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, the Awards celebrate colleagues across nine categories that make a difference to staff and students every day.

We caught up with our four shortlisted nominees to find out what the awards mean to them.

Fostering a spirit of community

A group of people standing in front of a doorway
Nadin and a group of Syrian Futures participants on a visit to St Andrews

Nadin Akta has been shortlisted for Community Impact, having also been nominated in the Excellent Newcomer category.

A member of the University's Refugee Advisory Group and the Universities of Sanctuary network, Nadin has been Outreach and Projects Coordinator for the Alwaleed Centre since January 2019 working on Syrian Futures and other community-facing initiatives.

Nadin’s nominators note her achievements in “fostering a spirit of community and providing opportunities for staff, students and visitors to learn more about different experiences and cultures in Edinburgh” including through story-telling, dancing and cuisine.

She says “Simply having been shortlisted is a great pleasure for me, and a reward by itself. This is really an emotional moment. I feel so fortunate and privileged to work at the [Alwaleed] Centre which has, from the beginning, motivated and encouraged me to initiate, execute, and evaluate the Syrian Futures project, which has a great impact on the community and I am so grateful to be part of".

Opening doors to a more equal and just university

Celeste-Marie Bernier has been shortlisted in the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) category, which recognises colleagues who celebrate diversity and difference, challenge discrimination and unfairness, and encourage others to do the same.

Holding a Personal Chair in United States and Atlantic Studies, Celeste is also People and Equalities Director for LLC.

Described by her nominators as an “inspiration and agent of change” and for “breaking the mould when it comes to academic kindness and collegiality”, Celeste has been praised for “driving forward many initiatives to make LLC a place where every student feels supported and welcomed”, “bringing so much intelligence and care to the idea of EDI that she has transformed the possibilities”, and “opening doors to a more equal and just university”.

She says “I'm extremely grateful to be nominated: every day it's a wonderful privilege to work with all the inspirational and fantastic students and staff here at the University: a precious gift that keeps on giving."

The spoonful of sugar

Photo of a cake
The 'humble pie' cake baked by Fiona for Edinburgh College of Art when ECA pipped LLC to the post fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support

Having received multiple nominations across various categories, Fiona Carmichael has been shortlisted for the Inspiring Colleague award.

A Technology Support Specialist in our Learning & Information Technology team, Fiona is known for going the “extra mile” to inspire, cheer and encourage colleagues and students through themed baking, crafting, sustainability initiatives and more, “most often for charity, but sometimes just so that we remember to talk to each other and celebrate our various backgrounds and cultures”.

Her nominators comment on Fiona’s “kindness”, “thoughtfulness”, and “collegiality”, describing her as our “guiding light” and the “glue” between our different offices and subject areas. “Her can-do attitude towards everything brings endless joy to all the staff and students in our School. No problem is too big for Fiona, she is like Mary Poppins and she is the spoonful of sugar which makes working with her so wonderful.”

She says "I was overwhelmed to be nominated by so many of my co-workers, some of whom I suspect I have bullied, cajoled and otherwise coerced into action over the years for all sorts of things. LLC staff are the best."

Improving the student experience

Christine Lennie, our Head of Student Support and Coordinator of Adjustments, has been nominated for the Dean of Students Award for Contribution to Student Experience.

Described as “an invaluable colleague to everyone in LLC who is working hard to improve the student experience”, Christine looks after a highly dedicated team providing vital support to our current and prospective students, including through student representation and events like Open Day, Offer Holder Day and Welcome Week.

Christine’s nominators describe her as “considered”, “compassionate” and someone who “cares oh so very much”.

She says “My nomination is indicative of the high regard and care for colleagues which I see around me every day, and from which we all benefit - students, applicants and visitors, as well as staff at all levels. I feel extremely lucky to work in such a supportive environment!”

The winners of the Colleague Recognition Awards 2020 will be announced in a live online event on Thursday 18th June 2020 to which all colleagues will be invited.

Related links

Find out more about the Syrian Futures project on the Alwaleed Centre website

Find out more about the Colleague Recognition Awards on the College website