GHSM student Meryem Cicek is Prize Winner for the Best Overall Submission for the King’s Experience Research Award

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GHSM undergraduate student Meryem Cicek

GHSM congratulates our undergraduate student Meryem Cicek for her success winning the Prize for the Best Overall Submission for the King’s Experience Research Award! We hope that her experience (outlined below) will inspire other students to gain extra curricula work experience during their studies through the King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowships (KURF), internships or volunteering.

The following entry has been written by Meryem Cicek

I feel immensely excited and proud to have been awarded Prize Winner for the Best Overall Submission for the King’s Experience Research Award! I would like to share my experience in the hopes of inspiring and encouraging fellow peers and Departmental staff to further participate and foster the wonderful research culture in our Department!

What is the King’s Experience Research Award?

The King’s Experience Research Award is one of many King’s Experience Awards that are on offer for students to achieve. They are given for learning that is undertaken outside the formal curriculum, which can be based on experiential learning or undertaking additional learning. The awards require applicants to demonstrate experiential learning through supported reflection and to submit an assessment of their choice. The King’s Experience Awards are recognised and rewarded by the University and are displayed on degree transcripts as co-curricular achievements. The Research Award is awarded to students who show outstanding ability to present learning outcomes and reflect on research work. This can be achieved through independent research work or the King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowships (KURF) scheme, which gives undergraduate students the unique opportunity to learn and be involved in contributing to cutting-edge research alongside leading academics during the summer.

I enrolled onto the Awards through the KURF scheme, by applying and being accepted onto working on a research project with Dr Hanna Kienzler from the Global Health and Social Medicine Department, in the summer of 2017. I took on the role of Undergraduate Research Assistant for the research project ‘Support and Independence within the Community’. This study is an ethnographic study of the mental health landscapes in the West Bank of occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), Ghana, and England. As well as investigating the available mental healthcare infrastructure and community-based support services, this research aims to understand the socio-cultural and political factors that affect the way in which mental health is understood and how it is dealt with in different community settings. The project also explores the rights of persons with mental health from a social justice and legal perspective. It is part of larger 5-year interdisciplinary research initiative funded by the Wellcome Trust called ‘Mental Health and Justice’, which, broadly-speaking, explores the concept of ‘decision-making capacity’ of persons with mental health disorders from different disciplinary perspectives.

My fellowship entailed working on the research component for the West Bank of Palestine for one month in the summer. I had an enriching learning experience that was task-packed and novel for me in some respects; I was given the opportunity to hone my existing skills and to develop new ones in the process. Working with the support of Dr Kienzler, I produced a dynamic directory that maps all available ‘Mental Health and Psychosocial Support’ (MHPSS) service providers available in the West Bank. Upon collaborating with Dr Kienzler and our research team, I designed a comprehensive survey tool for assisting data collection through telephone interviews with participants. Additionally, I presented an effective project management tool to the research team, for which I produced a user guide and supported fellow colleagues with adapting the tool for optimal use. Furthermore, I attended research team meetings with colleagues from both our project and from the larger research initiative, which provided valuable insight into the workings of an interdisciplinary project.

It was an enriching experience working in a multidisciplinary team, and being part of a research project with an interdisciplinary focus. The most valuable aspect of this fellowship to me is that I now have experience in an area of my undergraduate studies, BSc Global Health and Social Medicine. As I am in the final year of my degree, and considering future career paths, this fellowship experience has shown academic research as a potential route for me. At present, I continue to contribute to this research study as Research Assistant.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge and thank my supervisor Dr Hanna Kienzler for her support, guidance, and confidence in my abilities, throughout the fellowship period and beyond. I would also like to celebrate the fantastic opportunity that the organisers of the King’s Undergraduate Research Fellowships have provided. I couldn’t recommend undertaking the Research Award, or any of the other King’s Experience Awards enough! It is a unique opportunity to contribute to current academic research and knowledge production, while gaining valuable work experience – a fantastic way to enhance learning and employability. Indeed, this has been a very enriching personal and professional development journey for me!

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