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National residence award for Cardiff PGR

29 May 2020

Student wearing a Residence Life hoody
Violina Sarma is in the final year of her PhD in the Logistics and Operations Management section of Cardiff Business School

A doctoral student from Cardiff University has been recognised by the College and University Business Officers (CUBO) for providing a unique, personal and peer presence within university halls.

Violina Sarma, who is in the final year of her PhD in the Logistics and Operations Management section of Cardiff Business School, was one of seven students from across the UK to receive a Residence Assistant (RA) Award from CUBO.

The awards were due to be presented in May at CUBO’s annual Residence Life Conference, but has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the winners have received their trophies at home.

Violina was nominated by Elizabeth Russell, Residence Life Manager at Cardiff University, after winning the institution’s Residence Life Assistant (RLA) of the Year Award in 2019 and 2020 for her role in enhancing the student experience, while helping build a community within residences where students can feel a sense of belonging and inclusion.

Elizabeth said: “The Residence Life Team are immensely proud of Violina. I nominated her for the CUBO RA Awards 2020 because she’s a dedicated, hard-working, inventive, and passionate representative of Residence Life at Cardiff University. Her candour and kindness are widely known hallmarks of our Team…”

“More than any of our RLAs, Violina gets what Residence Life can do to enhance the daily lives of the students who live in residence halls. She sees the bigger picture and champions it. Because of this, she deserves recognition.”

Elizabeth Russell Residence Life Manager

Following nomination, the winners were selected by an international judging panel from the higher education sector comprising:

  • Grant Walters, Director of Educational Programs for the Association of College & University Housing Officers (Acuho-i).
  • Colin Marshall, Director of Campus Life Student Support and Services at Federation University Australia, Director of Business Practices and Enhancements for Acuho-i, and Past President of Asia-Pacific Student Accommodation Association.
  • Jan Capper, Chief Executive Officer, College and University business Officers (CUBO)

Jan Capper, Chief Executive Officer of CUBO, said: “A strong residence life programme improves the campus experience, contributing to student wellbeing, retention and academic results.

“The COVID-19 crisis only underlines the essential work of these exceptional young people whose best practice we’re recognising with a 2020 RA Award.”

Since the start of the pandemic, residence life activities and support have moved online, with residence life professionals and student RLAs finding creative ways to support students and boost morale in uncertain and stressful times.

The Residence Life Team
Cardiff University's Residence Life Team

In Cardiff, Violina and her team have continued to help build the student community through games and quizzes, maintaining mental and physical wellbeing through virtual exercise and cookery sessions, providing practical advice on staying safe and signposting services like hardship funds, wellbeing and counselling, careers and employability.

Reflecting on her awards and her ongoing RLA work, Violina said: “I try my best every day to ensure students have the best experience they can. To be acknowledged on such a grand scale is amazing and so unexpected…”

“I’m grateful to have such an amazing Res Life team and consider this to be a team achievement for the outstanding work we all do to support Cardiff University residents.”

Violina Sarma Research student

Established in 2018, the CUBO RA Awards mark exceptional achievement in residence life, the comprehensive programme that supports the experience of living on and off campus in purpose-built student accommodation.

Find out more about the Residence Life Team at Cardiff University.

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