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St Andrews Student Leader of the Year Award

 Leader award header

The purpose of the “St Andrews Student Leader of the Year Award” is to recognise and celebrate the excellent examples of leadership shown by our students which made the biggest contribution to the growth and vitality of the University of St Andrews or the broader community. We recognise leadership in all its forms.

Nominations open 1st March - 1st April 2021

Who is eligible?

The Award is open to all matriculated students at the University of St Andrews, both undergraduates and postgraduates who have displayed peer leadership and self-leadership qualities during their university studies.


The winner will receive funding up to £300 to attend a personal development event of their choice and the award will figure on their degree transcript.

What are we looking for in successful candidates?

Applicants will be judged against criteria that include innovation and vision in their leadership activities, resilience and adaptability to new challenges, personal effectiveness, dedication to self-development, and working with others within the team and/or the broader community.

This is not an academic award. We welcome applications from a broad variety of leadership backgrounds – sports, student societies, charities, student enterprise, start-ups, both team members and team leaders.

The St Andrews Student Leader of the Year Award is designed to celebrate peer leadership and promote personal development.

Nomination and application process

All students are welcome to nominate themselves, or nominate a peer. Applications are now open! 

To nominate a peer, send an email to with the person's name and email addres and a short explanation of why you would like to nominate them.  They will then be contacted and invited to fill in an application.

To nominate yourself or if you have been nominated by someone else,  fill in an application form on My Saint.  Click on 'My Applications'; under 'e:Vision applications', click on Scholarships and funding to access the scholarships and funding catalogue.  Select 'Projects and Initiatives' for the 'Award type' to bring up the Leader of the Year Application.  If you have any problems with the application process please contact


2019/20 Finalist and Winner

WinnerSophia Rommel is a 4th- year student in the Schools of International Relations and Philosophy. She is being recognised for the excellent examples of leadership she has shown in multiple roles over the last year. Over the course of the year, Sophia successfully managed and delivered a variety of leadership roles. She has worked as the Philosophy School President, Arts & Divinity Faculty President, and the Senior Student Ambassador. She also acted as the Philosophy Society's Diversity and Outreach Officer, Head of the Women and Minorities in Philosophy Society, and the Undergraduate Rep for the SASP Minorities and Philosophy Chapter. More importantly, her leadership has encompassed an interdisciplinary approach where she has worked across the schools of International Relations and Philosophy. The interdisciplinary and inter-school approach of Sophia’s leadership is evident through her participation in the Intersectional IR Conference's Guest Liaison team, as a Founding Member of the Hong Kong Public Affairs and Social Services Society, and as the Founder and Coordinator of the Philosophy Buddy Scheme. 

Through her involvement in multiple leadership roles, Sophia has shown an innovative vision of leadership. Her leadership vision has sought to representamplify, and respond to students' voices. She believes that her leadership style is democratic whereby she seeks to lead as well be accessible to her team as a peer. Within this vision in place, as Philosophy School President, she responded to the necessary student feedback by founding a non-academic mentoring scheme to connect undergraduate students of all years. Moreover, she also created an inter-school Humanities Careers Fayre that students from all disciplines across Arts and Humanities benefited from. Furthermore, both as a School President and as the Minorities and Philosophy undergraduate representativeshe facilitated a highly successful interdisciplinary discussion panel on ethnicity and academia. Other than this, as a Faculty President, she used her innovative leadership vision to redraft the School President role description for the benefit of future School Presidents at the university. Sophia’s strong leadership has impacted the students’ community at the university in a variety of different ways. The Philosophy Buddy Scheme that she founded has successfully moved into its second year. Furthermore, she submitted the Athena Swan application as a School President as well. Many congratulations to Sophia for becoming the Student Leader of the Year in 2020.  


Finalist: Françoise Borderie is a 5th-year student in the School of Modern Languages. She has shown extraordinary leadership through her role as the Charities Officer. She has successfully led the Charities Campaign and its various subcommittees consisting of around seventy people this past year. Her role involved multiple leadership opportunities where she was required to chair meetings as well as advice committee membersShe also took on a challenging role as a Responsible Person during Race2 and coordinated a Safety Team as wellAs a Charities Officer, she also a created a first-of-its- Training Day at the start of the academic year for all members of the various subcommittees. She had to liaison with multiple people across the university, such as, CAPODGot ConsentCareers Centre and the DoSDAThe training event was hugely successful and addressed several important issues, including, the collaboration between subcommitteesknowledge about the charities that they support, understanding Union regulationsrecognition of the responsibilities as a Union subcommittee as well as rewarding the subcommittee for their hard work.  


2018/19 Finalists and Winner


Rikke Nedergaard is a 4th-year student in the School of Social Anthropology. She has been recognised for her exceptional leadership across four different student leadership positions that she holds within the University St Andrews. She has shown strong leadership skills as the School President of Social Anthropology where she leads eleven Class Representatives and has worked towards to fostering a sense of community by representing almost seven hundred students. She also started the Social Anthrolopogy Mentoring Scheme in her second year which has helped many students within the School as well as had a wider impact across the University. Rikke is also the Co­Editor­in­Chief of the peer­reviewed journal Ethnographic Encounters, a role that has allowed her to train and lead a team of six Assistant Editors. Lastly, she leads a team of Associate and Junior Ambassadors as a Senior Ambassador.‌

Through her involvement in multiple leadership roles, Rikke has shown an innovative vision for leadership. She has co-organised over thirty events within her department in the last year to develop a strong sense of community. She also initiated the concept of welcome UG and PG welcome packs within her department and has successfully started and mobilised the mentoring scheme. Furthermore, she has ensured that every student in the department has sufficient guidance and resources through various events and initiatives. Furthermore, in her capacity as the Co-Editor-in-Chief, Rikke implemented four new extension roles for Assistant Editors for the peer-reviewed journal Ethnographic Encounters. The implementation of these roles along with a revision of the recruitment process meant a tripling of applications to join the team with the new team members taking on much more responsibility. Her exceptional leadership skills are proven by the fact that she successfully organised the first ever print volume of Ethnographic Encounters along with her team; an achievement that will have a lasting impact on students across the university in the coming years as well. Many congratulations to Rikke on becoming the winner of the Student Leader of the Year 2019.



Amy Bretherton is a 5th-year student in the School of Modern Languages. She has shown outstanding leadership skills as the Coordinator of the new St Andrews Beach Wheelchairs Scheme, she ran the project independently to the brand via local press and social media and leading a wider campaign around accessibility awareness in St Andrews. She also holds a leadership position as the Modern Languages School President and has worked towards reforming the School's feedback system and to increase its sense of community. Furthermore, Amy also works as St Andrews University Canoe Club Outreach Coordinator to support local causes.

Sneha Nair is a 4th-year student in the School of Geography and International Relations. She has worked in leadership positions in On The Rocks Festival since 2015. She began her journey with On the Rocks as their Head of Community & Outreach in 2016­17. As their Festival Director in 2017-18, she organised the UK’s largest student-run arts festival. In 2019, she has continued with her excellent leadership contributions as the Head of Marketing. While she was the Festival Director at On The Rocks, she also sat on the SSC as part of Association Councils. Most recently, following a successful election, she holds the position of the Association Chair of the 2018­19 Councils.

Sophia Staffiero is a 5th-year student in the School of Modern Languages. She has shown exemplary leadership skills as the Director of UBUNTU, the St Andrews' African and Caribbean Society's Cultural showcase, which offers a fresh twist on the traditional fashion show, incorporating dance, narrative and live performance (song and spoken word). Her vision of leadership encompasses the ethos behind UBUNTU which is rooted in the Southern African philosophy of togetherness that exists amongst humanity. Through her leadership, Sophia has worked extensively to promote Afro­Caribbean cultures while celebrating our diverse university community at St Andrews.

2017/18 Finalist and Winner


Holly Johnston is a 4th year student in the Schools of International Relations and Modern History. She has been recognised for her leadership in working with refugees both in the UK and in Greece. Inspired by her studies, Holly has been advocating rights for the Yazidi religious minority on the ground, in refugee camps, and through work with human rights organisations.

‌In June 2017, she spent the summer teaching English to mostly illiterate refugees from Northern Iraq, in Serres, Northern Greece. Soon after arriving in Greece, Holly’s leadership was recognised and she was asked to organise volunteers and then to coordinate the project as a whole, including distributing aid and managing the logistics of the NGO. This included mediating communication between communities and creating a code of conduct for volunteers. ‌On returning to Scotland to complete her studies, Holly was asked to work with Dundee Refugee Support on implementing an innovative language programme. In addition, Holly has been an essential member in Yazda, a Yazidi human rights organisation, and is currently organising an exhibition to be displayed at Scottish Parliament. Across her projects, Holly has demonstrated a range of leadership skills including vision, innovation, personal effectiveness, team-working, and adaptability. The award panel felt that Holly’s dedication and resilience, in often challenging circumstances, is testament to her willingness to help others and that she is a role-model for other St Andrews students wishing to implement social change. Many congratulations to Holly on becoming the winner of the St Andrews Student Leader of the Year Award 2018.


Ben Lawrie is a 4th year student in the School of International Relations who has been commended for his commitment to mental health activism. In 2017, Ben was elected as a Councillor for Angus in local elections which, in particular, he has used as a platform for mental health campaigning. Earlier this year saw the release of the documentary: “A Confession of Depression”, which Ben was instrumental in creating. The award panel was impressed with Ben’s initiatives to help others and create a significant difference in the community.

Laurens Calcoen is an MLitt student in the School of International Relations who was shortlisted for his leadership in founding the Centre for Soft Skills (CSS); a student-led project that organised a series of mediation and negotiation workshops. In addition, Laurens has been a dedicated Class Rep, a consultant for the Playfair Consultancy Group and a delegate at SaintMUN. The award panel felt that Laurens was to be commended for his passion to improve student engagement with interesting and interactive workshops.

Jessica Whiteley is a 4th year student in the School of Management who was shortlisted for her leadership skills across a wide range of activities, including Vice Convener to the Universities Charities Campaign. Jessica has worked to formally recognise student volunteering by promoting the ‘Gives Back Awards’, in addition to overseeing a team of 60 student committee members to fundraise for excellent causes. The award panel was impressed with Jessica’s personal effectiveness and passion in managing multiple leadership roles.

Oliver Savage is a 3rd year student in the Schools of English and Modern History, who was shortlisted for his leadership activities in developing, directing and performing in multiple theatre groups, in particular founding one of the UK’s only student run ‘devising theatres’ company. The panel felt that Oliver was to be commended for his ambition to share his passion for theatre, especially with non-traditional audiences. We were delighted to hear how Oliver oversaw creative processes from an original idea to organising a tour.



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