Decolonising DMU scheme allowed me to “see myself less as a student and more as a prospective employee.”

Gabriella Otim-Oyet worked as a paid student frontrunner for the Freedom to Achieve project, the precursor to Decolonising DMU, in 2018-2019 alongside completing her final year of studies and has recently taken up a role on the NHS Graduate Management Trainee programme. 

The frontrunner scheme offers opportunities for current students at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) to gain professional skills for the workplace while they undertake their undergraduate or postgraduate studies.  

She said: “The way I would phrase it is that while I was a student I was able to mix with staff who had a higher level of life experience, different viewpoints and different lifestyles, which is very similar to the workplace.”  

“I was itching to enter that adult professional world. And I saw myself less as a student and more as a prospective employee.”  

Gabriella graduated from DMU in 2019 securing a 2:1 in Bio Medical Science. She was also awarded the Dr Jane Sherwood Prize for Outstanding Dedication for overcoming a difficult final year during which her mother suddenly passed away. 

As part of her front runner role Gabriella worked with three other students to organise an event for student ambassadors across various universities. She also produced a guide to co-creation and participated as a speaker and presenter at a number of conferences on the attainment gap.  

It was during her studies that Gabriella applied for the NHS Graduate Scheme  which offers opportunities for people to experience different parts of the NHS and places candidates on a fast track to director level

Her new role officially began in March 2021, during the third national Covid-19 lockdown, but due to the nature of the work Gabriella works face-to-face most days.  

She said: “I have entered the NHS during a period of time where it is very fluid and innovation is a necessity to keep the organisation moving. So that is very exciting for someone like me who wants to be a change-maker, especially with reference to equal opportunities which is something I am very passionate about.” 

Gabriella credits DMU’s frontrunner scheme for preparing her for employment. She offered this advice for other students: “Get some experience at a professional level, working with people to prepare you for the workplace  will make you confident in your own abilities.  Employers are not just looking for a degree they are looking at you as a whole person.”