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Watch: UHI student of the year talks about juggling studies with work

By Erin Miller

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Nadia Johal, a fourth year Electrical Engineering Apprentice at wood panelling manufacturer, West Fraser was recently named UHI Inverness's Student of the year.

She was one of the special prize winners honoured at today's Graduation and Celebration of Success Ceremony.

This is not the first time studying at the university having previously completed a Business Management degree.

After graduating she had a number of jobs before starting her engineering apprenticeship with UHI.

In addition to her apprenticeship Nadia has mentored pupils and led a winning team in a sustainability challenge.

Nadia has worked several jobs during her studies the most recent was a delivery driver for an Inverness pizza shop.

The Courier caught up with Nadia at today's Graduation and Celebration of Success and Achievement to ask her what it feels like to be recognised as a stand-out amongst her peers and to discuss how working is often a necessity for students to make ends meet.

Nadia Johal, UHI Inverness's Student of the Year.
Nadia Johal, UHI Inverness's Student of the Year.

Nadia said: "It is so exciting and so nice to be recognised. I don't expect it I am quite unbothered by these things. I just do these projects. I didn't plan for this.

"I hope it can make some changes and people can try and do more projects while they are studying and realise that you can do a lot more than that, because I have worked a few jobs during it as well.

She spoke about working at Bici's Pizza alongside her apprenticeship.

She said: "While studying this intensive HNC during my apprenticeship I also worked other jobs because we all know that the cost of living crisis is really hitting everyone hard.

"It was long hours and of course that could have made it really difficult but it was for a pizza shop in town, I just thought it is something to do, it is really interesting, I took it up during lockdown as well because I thought you can't really go out but you could drive about in their cars and not have to pay for the fuel, so that was nice as well.

"But I think that it is good for anyone, while it is stressful, to have a job outside of your job or a hobby outside of your job because when your studying and your work is all the same thing it can be quite intense."

She continued: "I was working 15 hour days minimum but I think it was worth it and you were making sure you were keeping yourself above the brink of struggling for your bills that month.

"I think there is a lot of pressure on students to be focusing all on their qualification and all on their degree which of course you are, if you have put down for it, you really want to do well. But there are also costs outside of it. Even to get these robes it costs a lot of money so I think it is something students really have to remember, that everyone needs to be supportive with that while you have to focus on your qualifications, you have also got to make money.

"For me even this year doing my HNC it sounds like its not a lot and your doing it through work and its part-time for a while, but when you are studying you are so busy that everything goes to the way side.

"But you still need to make money, you need to pay for your digs, you need to pay for going out, I think that is something that everyone needs to remember especially in the cost of living crisis that we are having"

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