The Bioengineering COVID-19 awards were developed to recognise the extraordinary efforts of students and staff in the Bioengineering department in the context of COVID-19.
Staff in the department were invited to nominate their colleagues and students for a Bioengineering Thank You Award. In their nomination, staff members had to state why they felt the work and actions of their nominee were so exceptional. These reasons could be: delivering critical departmental services despite challenging circumstances, working additional hours to ensure new processes were delivered, being involved in activities outside their role to support staff or students, or contributing to College and national COVID-19 related efforts.
I spoke with Julie Hoang, the department’s Learning Technologist, who was nominated for a Thank You award due to the immense hard work she put in to support the setting up of remote assessments. We discussed how her role changed due to the lockdown and how she adjusted to these changes.
Kemi: How do you feel about being given a COVID-19 Thank You award?
Julie: I’m really thrilled to have been nominated, it has been a huge learning experience and despite the difficult situation things have been pretty smooth all round. The Student Office team have been great and stayed positive throughout, our joint efforts made it much less stressful than it could have been.
Kemi: How was adjusting to our “new normal” and juggling working from home, having to deal with changing processes, managing student welfare as well as dealing with family life?
Julie: It has been amazing being able to reduce my 4-hour daily commute to 0 and although my two girls have been mostly brilliant, they seem to delight in popping up behind me and waving in most of my Teams meetings which has been slightly irritating. It’s been really nice having the time to do and grasp new things with work and home. I have been experimenting with video creation and I am learning how to play the guitar and crochet.
Kemi: How did your role change during the lockdown and what limitations did you face to your work?
Julie: Normally I don’t have a major role in running exams, however this year I had to learn all the processes and adapt them to the current norm. It was very busy and crazy at times but the adrenaline from the pressure and stress did me good! I also really enjoyed being able to interact with students and to read their first test submissions about how they were coping and what they were going to do when exams were over. I don’t interact a lot with students in my role so it was nice to be able to support them a bit more.
Kemi: What or who was inspiring your hard work and kept you going during the lockdown?
Julie: I think I must thrive on the pressure as it was quite a buzz! I am very much a supporter of a student-centred education system and as cheesy as it sounds being able to support them in uncertain times with what must have been the most stressful experience in their education so far was a no brainer.
Kemi: What are you most looking forward to once things return to “normal”?
Julie: I’ve grown to appreciate being at home more and it’s been lovely to be able to grow plants, save money and give my family bad hair cuts, however, I look forward to seeing and working in the new student office, swimming at Ethos again and having ginger and blueberry scones from Gail’s! I’m also planning on doing a DIY campervan conversion so watch this space!