Student Midwife clinches prestigious award

Selena Palmer

“Inspiring” student midwife Selena Palmer has clinched a prestigious award for her efforts to help others during her time at the University of Leicester. 

The fourth-year student scooped a Student Midwife trailblazer award from the Maternity & Midwifery Forum at the Student Midwife Experience Festival 2023 which recognises those who have made a difference during their course.

Selena is studying a Master in Science Midwifery with Leadership MSci, which not only enables her to learn core midwifery skills but also gain clinical and professional leadership skills within maternity and healthcare. 

A delighted Selena said she is extremely proud to win and be recognised for her hard work. 

“I’m driven by my passion to help others and improve outcomes. During the course I’ve enjoyed volunteering and dedicating my time to different projects and I have a strong support network helping me achieving my goals,” she said.

Selena added: “I feel fortunate to have met so many inspirational people which has helped me to grow in confidence. I’ve really enjoyed the course and I am grateful to everyone who has helped me in my journey so far and hope to continue to give back to others.”

The 22-year-old has acted as a student ambassador throughout her time at the University, assisting with Open Days among numerous other events. 

In addition, she is a Unibuddy and regularly blogs to communicate with future students about the course to ensure their start is as smooth as possible. 

Selena volunteers as a mentor to groups of teenagers attending the Healthcare and Medicine Summer School - part of the University’s Widening Participation Admissions Strategy - to increase the uptake of students from Black, Asian and Ethnic (BAE) backgrounds. In 2022 and 2023, participants voted her Star Mentor for going above and beyond for them.  

In her first year, during the pandemic, she collaborated with the University’s Admissions Team to produce a recruitment promotional video for the virtual Open Days.  

Selena is also part of the School of Healthcare’s EDI Committee, representing the voice of student midwives and has assisted as a student member in the development of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) Decolonising Midwifery Education Toolkit to address inequity in health education.

During her time at the University she has taken part in a College-wide symposium with other students from Healthcare and Medicine to explore the issues facing BAE students in the NHS and its subsequent impact on patient experience. This contributed to the adoption of the Halo Code and the development of Race Inclusion Action Plans within the School and wider university respectively.   

Working as a Curriculum Consultant, collaborating with the School of Biological Sciences, Selena has helped investigate the awarding gap among BAE students undertaking Biological Sciences degrees.

She has also undertaken an elective leadership placement with the Leicester MBBRACE team to improve her understanding of how the maternal mortality and stillbirth data is incorporated into the reports and influences clinical practice – particularly improving outcomes for Black women and their babies.   

Competition for the Trailblazer Award was extremely high and Selena was chosen as the overall winner with four student midwives who had also been short-listed being highly commended. 

Award judges said: “Selena has demonstrated enthusiasm, initiative and leadership potential.

“As a Student Ambassador, she is proactive in attracting students from BAE backgrounds to the course to ultimately influence a change in culture, attitudes and behaviours within the university and clinical settings. 

“She consistently works above and beyond the course requirements but within her capacity, engaging in activities at local and national level, championing improving the experiences and/or outcomes of others from BAE backgrounds. She has an excellent work ethic but does not seek praise for her actions –she truly inspires others.”

Professor Jayne Marshall, who pioneered the development of the four-year Master in Science Midwifery with Leadership programme at the University, said: “Selena should be very proud of this achievement as indeed I am. She is an excellent role model for other students to emulate and epitomises the very essence of what the midwifery programme sets out to do - develop future leaders of the midwifery profession.”