This prize is awarded to the undergraduate students who achieved the highest overall score in an accredited degree programme at each of the institutions accredited by the British Psychological Society. The 2019 recipient for the Open University is Wendy Lloyd. She tells her story.
As someone who’s always been very suited to a freelance lifestyle, where work changes from one day to the next, and opportunities tend to come in as short-term contracts, six years loomed large as a commitment as I set out on my OU degree. It’s therefore been a point of personal pride to have stuck at something so determinedly; to know that I’m not the fly-by-night that perhaps I’ve secretly thought myself to be!
Having now received this award and discovered that I was in fact the top student of psychology at the OU for all four of its accredited degrees of 2019, I feel hugely proud. The award has enabled me to fully recognise how much hard work I put in consistently throughout my studies, and it obviously now very much feels like it paid off!I think that my longstanding freelance career in the media helped me organise myself during my studies: I am used to being self-motivated – and not having anyone to tell me what to do. Furthermore, my schedule tends to change on a daily basis, which meant I could never put off studying, because I never knew when bookings might clog up my diary and scupper my study plans.
Of course, all OU students need to be as organised as they can – most are juggling work and family commitments, and just finding the hours in the day to knuckle down can be the biggest challenge of all. I did find OU study a bit isolating at times, so I was very grateful to my patient husband who indulged my lengthy rants as I tried to make sense of my latest assignment. He was invaluable for helping me make sense of all the theory whizzing round in my head – and he’s become quite a psychologist off the back of our regular pow wows!
For me the greatest challenge was digging deep for that bit extra to get me out of a study hole when I was ready to scream over an assignment. The challenge of delivering my best, and not giving up when it couldn’t easily be found has really bolstered my mental resilience. I feel that achieving my degree means that in whatever area of my life now – including my Masters study in which I am now ensconced – I feel more calm when things are proving mentally or emotionally tough. My OU studies taught me that my best work or ideas always come beyond that moment I’m just about ready to give up. Now I’m able to see that moment more clearly, have faith, and know that another big push is likely to get me there. So: know that it really is doable – it’s just your ego messing with you!
Despite having had no intentions as to where my OU study might take me when I began back in 2013, my undergrad project, which I enjoyed thoroughly, was the specific prompt for me to pursue a Masters. Incidentally, I beseech you to choose something you’re really interested in for your undergrad project, because it’s the only way you’ll do well working on it for 6+ months. As a long-time film critic, and with the launch of the #MeToo and Time’s Upmovements, the timing of my project was serendipitous for my longstanding interest in onscreen female representation and inequality. However, I realised that I would never be able to do the subject justice in 5000 words, and when I found my dream Masters at LSE: it was meant to be…. I’m now studying within Sociology, but very much bringing my psychological thinking to my research, and still loving every minute (though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still have those occasional freak-out moments when I question everything I’m doing!).
Regardless, I’m incredibly excited about where my MSc will take me personally and professionally; I’ve got some tentative ideas of where I might be heading, but six years with the OU has shown me that studying really is quite a trip, so I intend to stay open to all potential diversions.
Read Wendy’s film reviews for the BPS magazine The Psychologist here: