Are you the Undergraduate of the Year for Impactful Social Action?

Applications are now closed.Preregister for the next awards


Mercy Ngulube – University of Leicester, English

Mercy Ngulube is studying English at the University of Leicester. She is the former chair of the CHIVA Youth Committee and used this role to drive through campaigns and concerns on behalf of young people living with HIV. Mercy represented CHIVA with professionalism, realism, humour, passion and intelligence. She is a recipient of the Diana Legacy Award and has spent the last year continuing to campaign and be a spokesperson for her community. Mercy has spoken in the House of Lords, co-hosted an event at Downing Street, delivered a TEDx talk, and travelled internationally to attend conferences to further her role as an activist.


We are pleased to announce the following finalists for the Undergraduate of the Year Award for Impactful Social Action. All 10 finalists of each award are invited to attend the final awards ceremony on 20th April where the winner will be announced.

Annabel Allen-Stevens | University of Brighton | BA Environment and Media Studies

Rob Angel | University of Bristol | BSc Economics

Eleanor Brown | University of York | BA History and Archaeology

Jan-Oliver Distler | Lancaster University | BA International Business Management

Maisie Harley | Durham University | BA Criminology

Tierney Holloway | University of York | BA English and Related Literature

Gursharan Kambo | Aston University | BSc Business and Management

Isabel Locke | Durham University | BA Geography

Mercy Ngulube | University of Leicester | BA English

Rebekka von Thadden | King's College London | BA International Relations

Entry criteria

We're searching UK universities to find the outstanding Undergraduate of the Year for Impactful Social Action. You must have the potential to become an impactful leader and the drive to go the extra mile.


The winner of the award will spend a week contributing to a brand new initiative focusing on social action in local communities, spending time in various locations up and down the UK. You will get a guaranteed place on the programme, where this highly sought-after experience will hone your teamwork and leadership skills, preparing you for your future career. You’ll also be given the opportunity to network with senior representatives from a top 20 graduate employer in the Guardian UK 300.

What makes an award winner?

Our winner will be able to demonstrate their potential to become an impactful leader and their strength in the values and competencies we look for:

  • Humility, respect and empathy. At Teach First we work with a variety of stakeholders – from pupils to parents, teachers and peers. We look for people who can build relationships quickly and value and respect others in order to get the best out of them.
  • Interaction. The ability to communicate clearly and listen and respond appropriately is very important, as is adapting your style in different situations and contributing as a great team player.
  • Leadership. You will need to be proactive and make decisions on a daily basis as you strive to go above and beyond expectations. Taking the lead will be crucial for success.
  • Planning and organisation. You will need to work efficiently and effectively to meet deadlines and deliver successfully.
  • Problem solving. Every day you will face new challenges and will have to come up with considered, effective and appropriate solutions in response. While using resources and logic, you will also need to draw upon your creativity and innovation to be successful.
  • Resilience. You will need to be hungry for a challenge and be able to draw upon your patience and endless energy to persevere through the difficult times. When faced with obstacles, you will need to be tenacious and versatile and maintain a positive mindset.
  • Self-evaluation. Personal development is vital for long-term success. You will need to be aware of your performance, your strengths and your weaknesses and you will need to be realistic about what and how you can do better.

The winner of the Undergraduate of the Year Award for Impactful Social Action will be personally involved in meaningful social action and be able to articulate the double benefit of this action (to themselves and to their community) through examples that bring their experiences to life. They will be able to demonstrate how they have gone the extra mile to develop projects and used their initiative to create a positive difference for others – and how this has led to sustainable change.

How do I win?

Stage 1A


Register your details online and answer three questions set by #iwill and Teach First.

Must be completed by 29.01.18

Stage 1B

Online tests

Receive an email inviting you to sit two online tests designed exclusively by our partner CEB.

Must be completed by 29.01.18

Submit by

29 January 2018

Your details must be submitted and all online tests completed by 29 January 2018.

If you are successful in getting through to the next stage, you will hear from us by 1 March 2018.

Stage 2

Assessment centre

If you pass the online tests and make it to the next stage your application will be reviewed by #iwill and Teach First.

This stage may include a telephone interview and an assessment centre.

Stage 3

Grand final

The final shortlist of ten students will be invited to the awards ceremony at Canary Wharf, where the 2018 award winners will be announced!

#iwill and Teach First

#iwill, Teach First and the Undergraduate of the Year Award for Impactful Social Action


The #iwill campaign is a UK-wide movement that aims to make involvement in meaningful social action (eg fundraising, volunteering and campaigning) part of life for young people by 2020. Youth social action is ‘young people taking practical action in the service of others to create positive change’. Youth social action creates a double benefit, strengthening communities AND developing the skills of participants. Social action transforms character and improves well-being, developing 21st century skills that employers are calling for and helping to create socially responsible leaders for the future.

We know young people are already doing fantastic things in their communities but there are many more who have still not played their part. We want to ensure that ALL young people get access to social action opportunities – creating a habit for life, developing vital skills and making a positive impact on their communities. We know that social action in formal and non-formal education can increase opportunities to succeed; that’s why Teach First is a key partner (along with over 700 other organisations UK-wide) that supports the #iwill campaign.

Watch a video about the #iwill campaign here.

Teach First

Teach First is a charity working for equality in education in England and Wales. Our two-year Leadership Development Programme provides world-class teacher and leadership training for people who are passionate about giving children from the poorest backgrounds a great education.

Joining the Leadership Development Programme means more than just teaching. It means leading young minds, forging relationships and having an impact that lasts far beyond the last day of school. It means building a better future for each and every child.

At Teach First we value the skills and attributes developed through meaningful social action. We are keen to hear from students who can describe the impact of this on themselves and others, and can put what they have learned into practice to help build a fairer society and equality in education for all.

Find out more about Teach First here.

Advice from finalists

Andrew Reynolds

Andrew Reynolds, finalist in 2016

How did you find the application process?

The application process was challenging but interesting. Questions were asked that required a strong knowledge of the sponsor company's areas of interest. The assessment centre was a good reflection of actual graduate assessment centres, which was good practice!

Did you ever think you would get as far as you did in the process?

I felt I would do fairly well considering how my skills matched the required skills. However, the standard of other candidates was very high and I was delighted and surprised to make it through to the final ten.

Has this process helped you in your career to date?

When informed of having made it into the top ten candidates, I was also offered the placement, which was the award for the overall winner. While I did not win the overall award, getting a work placement had been my main goal and this was completed. My summer placement was an incredible experience and I secured a place on the graduate scheme at the end of my summer – I begin work once I complete my degree this year.

Sum up your experience of the Awards in three words:

A fantastic opportunity.

Bronte Wright

Bronte Wright, finalist in 2016

How did you find the application process?

Challenging but very rewarding: the initial questions took me the longest as I wanted to make sure they were perfect! The telephone interview was a competency-based interview, which I had done a couple of before so that one was okay. However, it was the first assessment centre I had ever been to so it was quite nerve-racking, especially as everyone was going for the same prize, but I had so much fun on the day. Enterprise was really friendly and welcoming and I learned a lot!

Did you ever think you would get as far as you did in the process?

Definitely not! I didn’t think I would even make it past the initial application as the three questions that were asked were very challenging and required big answers. I was amazed to have got to the top ten in the end and, even though I didn’t win the ceremony, it was fantastic and I got to network with so many people!

Has this process helped you in your career to date?

Absolutely! From the Undergraduate of the Year Awards I was offered a summer internship with Enterprise in the accounts department of their Nottingham regional headquarters. I was there for three months and really enjoyed it! Since then I have been offered a placement in revenue management down in the European headquarters but unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, I will no longer be taking a placement year so I’m searching for summer internships elsewhere. The process was the first proper application process I went through as well, so I’ve definitely gained some transferable skills such at networking that I can take forward into future applications!

Sum up your experience of the Awards in three words:

Challenging, rewarding, exciting.

Erika Tsoi

Erika Tsoi at the 2016 awards ceremony (centre).

How did you find the application process?

I found the application process was a good length compared to other job/internship applications I have done. It was also a very good opportunity to practise the different stages of a job application. I found the initial submission of my application a little scary as I felt I would not get very far in the competition so I put off the initial submission up until the last week of the deadline!

Did you ever think you would get as far as you did in the process?

Absolutely not! Having taken part in this competition has definitely boosted my confidence when it comes to job applications, speaking to senior people and communication in general.

Has this process helped you in your career to date?

Without this competition, I would not have found my graduate job!

Sum up your experience of the Awards in three words:

Outstanding, exciting, enjoyable.

Fraser Turner

Fraser Turner, finalist in 2016

How did you find the application process?

The application process is great practice for all the screening processes you will go through while hunting for a real job. It also encourages a bit of creativity and helps you learn key skills such as presentation and group debating. At the same time it is enjoyable and takes you out of your comfort zone, helping you to grow as a person.

Did you ever think you would get as far as you did in the process?

Never in a million years – after reading previous winners' bios I never expected to get past the first round!

Has this process helped you in your career to date?

Yes, it is an excellent talking point in interviews and it secured me a summer internship last year. The experience is a great example of self-motivation and you pick up a lot of useful skills along the way!

Sum up your experience of the Awards in three words:

Well worth it.

Josh Robson

Josh Robson at the 2016 award ceremony (centre-left)

How did you find the application process?

It showed me what it was like in the interview and recruitment stage of trying to find an internship or job. In addition, my confidence and ability to excel myself improved, especially when put under pressure.

Did you ever think you would get as far as you did in the process?

I didn’t think I’d make it past the first stage and was shocked at how far I got. It was a great confidence boost.

Has this process helped you in your career to date?

Massively. L’Oreal offered me an internship to complete after I finish my year abroad at the University of Florida.

Sum up your experience of the Awards in three words:

Exciting, challenging, motivating.

Kira O'Donoghue

Kira O'Donoghue, finalist in 2016

How did you find the application process?

The application process was tough but enjoyable. I particularly enjoyed the Rolls-Royce assessment centre, which was challenging but incredibly rewarding; we had the opportunity to network with successful businesswomen and develop our skills in presenting and teamwork.

Did you ever think you would get as far as you did in the process?

No, not at all! I saw the opportunity advertised on my university careers service and thought I would do the initial application. I was pleasantly surprised at every stage where I found out I had been successful. I definitely did not expect to make it to the final ten of the Female Undergraduate of the Year Award.

Has this process helped you in your career to date?

The process has definitely helped me in terms of my career. Despite the fact I didn't win the award I was offered a ten-week internship with Rolls-Royce as a commercial intern. The experience was great and taught me a lot of new skills, allowing me to gain an insight into a business place I was interested in. Upon completion of the internship I was offered a graduate position, which I have gladly accepted.

Sum up your experience of the Awards in three words:

Rewarding, challenging, worthwhile.