Winners of this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Social Impact Awards

The winners of this year’s Vice-Chancellor’s Social Impact Awards have been announced.

The awards, organised by Cambridge Hub and sponsored by the Vice Chancellor’s Office, recognise and celebrate exceptional achievement in contributing to society. University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Professor Deborah Prentice hosted the ceremony on 30 April, which saw 15 students recognised with awards.

Undergraduate Student Awards

Sakshi Jha from Clare College

Sakshi is a law finalist, who co-founded Cambridge Freedom from Torture, a refugee-aid group, where she formed part of the first student volunteering convoy to Calais, France. Sakshi is also leading a policy paper examining UK asylum policy; she is on the Managing Board of the Cambridge Human Rights Law Journal, and she is the founding Co-Editor in Chief of the Clare College Law Journal, where she interviewed Supreme Court Justices on prevalent legal issues such as human rights and international law enforcement. Sakshi has also aided fundraising efforts as Treasurer of Cambridge Amnesty International, and is a legal researcher for a social consulting firm, completing commissioned research for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 

Millie May from St John's College

Millie is a third-year politics and social anthropology undergraduate at St John's College. She is extremely passionate about climate and social justice-related work and has been the Lead of the Cambridge Climate Society Education Team for two academic years. She has led several projects in this role, the main being a campaign and student-faculty collaborative effort to integrate climate-related content across degrees at Cambridge, which she presented at COP28 to advocate for an integrated climate change curriculum on an international level.

Faustine Petron from Department of Sociology

Faustine is a final-year Human, Social and Political Sciences student specialising in Sociology. She is interested in gendered violence and feminist modes of resistance in the Maghreb and South Asia. Outside of academia, Faustine is an award-winning campaigner who works with the government and charities in using education as a tool to prevent gendered violence in the UK.

Josephine Somerville from Clare College

Jo is a third-year English student who has acted on her passion for making long-lasting positive changes for biodiversity and climate change, centrally in the role of lead of the Cambridge Climate Society Action team. In 2023 she led the prosecution in the Generation on Trial project and more recently has initiated collaborations between the student bodies and the local community. The most extensive campaign she has been running is the Pesticide-Free Cambridge Colleges Campaign. 

Master’s Student Award

Ming Hong Choi from Hughes Hall

Ming is a Master of Finance candidate at Cambridge Judge Business School, supported by both the UK Government’s Chevening Scholarship and Cambridge Trust Scholarship. He has made contributions across and beyond Cambridge through various leadership and advisory roles in youth leadership and development, real estate, investment, arts, sustainability, and educational initiatives.

PhD Student Awards

Samantha Hodder from Clare College

Sam is a final year PhD student studying cancer biology in the Department of Biochemistry. During a clinical placement early on in her PhD, Sam saw how important it is for children with cancer to be well informed about what they’ll be going through during the course of their treatment. This experience led Sam to begin the development of Chum, an app based learning and support platform for children with cancer and their families.

Swetha Kannan from Trinity Hall

Swetha is a PhD student at the Department of Medicine, as well as a successful junior scientist, educator, and social entrepreneur. Her key contributions to the local Cambridge community have been a result of her involvement with Make-A-Smile Cambridge, Student Minds Cambridge and the Cambridge Development Initiative. Swetha also established The Lalitha Foundation, a non-profit organisation in India dedicated to the betterment of lives of cancer- and post-sepsis patients.

Mine Koprulu from Pembroke College

Mine is a final year PhD student in Medical Sciences at MRC Epidemiology Unit. Improving the lives of others and making the world a better place to live in has been a long-standing aspiration of Mine’s. Professionally, she is aiming to improve healthcare by better understanding the biological basis of diseases and identifying effective treatment opportunities. In parallel, she also has been leading and contributing to various social impact projects, ranging from building more inclusive communities to promoting gender equity.

Nazifa Rafa from Lucy Cavendish College

Nazifa is a PhD student in Geography and a pioneering researcher dedicated to addressing pressing environmental and social justice issues. Her work spans biodiversity conservation, climate change, disaster risk, water and energy security, environmental health, and sustainable development, with a focus on empowering marginalised communities.

Mayumi Sato from Trinity Hall

Mayumi is a PhD student and Gates Cambridge Scholar, and the founder and director of SustainED. She has several years' experience working with climate-affected groups, predominantly in the Global South. Her academic and advocacy interests involve leading campaigns and initiatives for impact-based community development and justice-oriented research. Her interests focus on the intersection between social equity, environmental justice, and community engagement.

Volunteering Award

Kate Lucas from Homerton College

Kate is a third year undergraduate studying Manufacturing Engineering, who is dedicated to increasing diversity in engineering. As well as being President of Cambridge University Robotics Society and organising Unibots UK 2023 and 2024, she also mentors Year 13 students through platforms such as Zero Gravity and is also an active ambassador for Homerton Changemakers.

Innovation Award

William Lan from St Catharine's College

William is an MPhil student in Medical Science who has significantly contributed to mental health advocacy and community support. He is the Postgraduate Welfare Officer at St Catharine’s College, Vice-Chair of the International Students’ Campaign, and a Mental Health Foundation Young Leader, launching crucial welfare programmes and peer-support systems. The judges said William's innovative methods and steadfast commitment to mental health advocacy have broadened his impact, establishing him as a force for positive change within and beyond the academic community.

Global Impact Award

Paulina Pérez-Duarte Mendiola from Sidney Sussex College

Paulina is a PhD candidate focusing on play and health at the Faculty of Education. She is a paediatrician, medical anthropologist and advocate for children’s holistic health and healthcare equity. Her work focuses on the role and impact of play in sick children’s development, learning and healthcare experiences. She is the Founder and Director of Semana JIM, which is the acronym of Play in Hospital Awareness Week in Mexico.

Impact in the Local Community Award

Zara Crapper from Robinson College

Zara is a third-year undergraduate in Natural Sciences. She has been involved in Scouting since she was young, and before her arrival in Cambridge she was an adult volunteer for a Cub Scout group in Andover. Since coming to Cambridge, she has opened a new section in a local Group, enabling the youngest members in the Scouting family from across the community to come together and learn in an enjoyable and inclusive environment. 

Sustainability Award

Clara Ma from Selwyn College

Clara is a Gates Cambridge Scholar at Selwyn College, an alumna of Churchill College and a PhD student in environmental science and policy at the Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance. She assists departments, colleges, and organisations across the University in transitioning to more sustainable food procurement.

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