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Student Inspired to Study through Work at University Wins Prize

A mother-of-two, who went from working at the University of Worcester to becoming a student, has been recognised with a special prize for her outstanding work in Computing.

Bex Reynolds was inspired through her interactions with Computing lecturers to pursue a degree and career in the industry. She has now received the Carol Pugh prize from the Worcestershire Association of Women Graduates (WAWG), a local branch of the British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG), in recognition of her academic achievements so far, which also gained her an Academic Scholarship from the University.

The award is presented to a University of Worcester female undergraduate who achieves the highest grades in their first year of Computing-related studies. The prize is named after Carol Pugh, a former President of BFWG Worcestershire. The BFWG is a network of women graduates aiming to improve the lives of women and empower them through education. It has been offering scholarships to support women in higher education for more than a century.

Bex, 38, of St John’s, Worcester, who wants to work as a software developer, said: “I’m delighted. It was completely unexpected and it’s just really lovely, not just to be given the financial reward but to have recognition. It has been a lot of work as a mother with two children and working also, so it’s been quite full on.

“In terms of software development there are a lot of new products being released where it’s been all male teams. I think it’s really important to get different perspectives and there is a lot of unused talent out there so this award is really encouraging.”

Bex, who has a previous degree in Sociology, had been working on and off in the Academic Support Unit at the University since 2005, but, when she became an administrator for the Computing team, this sparked her interest in the subject.

“I used to see them and minute their meetings and I thought that’s really interesting,” said Bex, who is in her second year of Computing. “You chat to people and think that maybe I can do this. They were very encouraging; they took me under their wing and gave me the confidence to apply and go for it. I am really grateful to the university for all the support they have given me.” Since finishing her first year, she has secured part-time work with a software development firm alongside her studies.

Sue Powell, from BFWG Worcestershire, who presented the £200 prize, said: “I would hope this award will encourage more women to do Computing because they’re going to recognise that another woman has progressed. This is important because women’s perspective is very different to men’s. We really need to promote women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects because their contribution is so valuable.”

Dr Chris Bowers, Head of Computing at the University of Worcester, added: "A fifth of women compared to men consider computing as a possible option, which is wrong and shouldn’t be the case. There are things we can do to change that and this award is part of that. Recognising the contribution that women make in our field is very important.”

For enquiries about the BFWG Worcestershire email WAWG70@gmail.com