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Four outstanding students celebrate winning MacQuitty Prize

Rachel Dickerson

Amy Knight

Abigail Stein

An unprecedented number of students will benefit from the generosity of a Sussex alumnus after achieving exceptional final results.

Four outstanding students will share the honour of being a MacQuitty Prize winner this year after it was impossible to separate their top marks.

BSc Mathematics student Rachel Dickerson has won the Science Prize outright while the second £10,000 prize will be shared between three Arts and Humanities students; Amy Knight (BA in Primary and Early Years Education), Abigail Stein (BA in Anthropology and International Development) and Edward Holt (BSc Geography)

Two of the winners have already indicated that they would use the funds for further study as they pursue ambitions to remain in education.

The annual prize, which has run since 2008, is thanks to the generosity of Sussex alumnus Dr Jonathan MacQuitty who graduated with a DPhil in Chemistry from Sussex in 1974.

Dr MacQuitty traced his fortune to attend university to the effect of a single act of philanthropy through three generations of his family. In 1884, his great-uncle won a sizeable prize at university, allowing him to continue his studies and then become a successful doctor.

When the great-uncle died, the legacy passed to MacQuitty’s grandfather then, via his father, to him.

Commenting on being awarded the Prize, Rachel said: “I feel extremely privileged to be the winner of the 2020 MacQuitty Prize for the Sciences. It is an honour to be a part of such a legacy. Whilst I was completing my A-levels, my dad passed away suddenly, leaving behind just me and my mum. At that time, I thought a university education was out of the question for me. Luckily, my mum encouraged me to still pursue an academic path and the University of Sussex has been such an amazing place to do that.

“I have loved studying maths and it has helped me start fresh. I never imagined that I would achieve as much as I have and receiving the MacQuitty prize has taught me to believe in myself. Thank you to Dr Jonathan MacQuitty for such a generous contribution which I will use for training that will enable me to become an educator myself.”

Amy, now working as a newly qualified teacher for an academy trust, said: “I’m incredibly surprised and grateful to win the award. I feel very indebted to university staff for all of the kindness and support I have received throughout my degree.

“I struggled with my mental health throughout school, and university was the first time my anxiety was recognised and supported. I strongly believe that mental wellbeing is prerequisite to academic achievement and I hope winning the prize demonstrates that mental health difficulties are not a barrier to success.

“I’m at the beginning of my teaching career, however I hope to use the money to complete an MA in educational psychology. I want to support children with mental health difficulties to reach their full potential.”

Edward Holt said: "Being awarded the MacQuitty prize was very surprising. Having put a substantial amount of effort in over the last three years, with proving myself capable being the main motivation, it is nice to to receive formal recognition of that effort. Furthermore, it will serve as a useful reminder that I am perhaps more capable than I think.

"The money has largely removed a significant financial hurdle that would otherwise be standing in front of further study. It nicely tops up the master's fees scholarship I have been awarded, another unexpected treat, by Newcastle University to study on their Environmental Geoscience MRes programme."

Abigail Stein said: "I'm hugely grateful to receive this award. Studying Anthropology and International Development has transformed my worldview and enhanced my motivation and engagement with environmental campaigning.

"Throughout my degree, my belief in my own ability has grown a lot, and this award has affirmed my confidence to pursue further study. It will also contribute to financing it. I am deeply grateful to Dr. MacQuitty for his generosity and kindness."

Dr MacQuitty said: "It has been a real pleasure over the last 12 years to learn about some of the exceptional students I have been able to help through these prizes. This year, knowing the prizes are helping four different students to further their careers and further their studies, is very satisfying. And it’s great to see students benefiting from an academic prize early in their lives in the same way that my great-uncle did in Belfast almost 150 years ago."

Dr Marina Pedreira-Vilarino, Director of Development and Alumni Relations, said: “Jonathan MacQuitty’s generous philanthropic support is a perfect example of the tremendous impact that alumni donations can have on students’ lives.”



By: Neil Vowles
Last updated: Tuesday, 21 July 2020

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