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Celebrating our graduates: Hundreds set to raise their glasses to our students

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Published on 06 July 2020

Stacy Humphrey
Stacy Humphrey

This week hundreds of students will celebrate graduating from the University of Sunderland in a unique way.

Despite the annual Academic Awards at the city’s Stadium of light having to be postponed due to Covid-19, the University refused to let the special occasion go unmarked.

So an online celebration event will take place on Wednesday where students, staff, family and friends can toast the success of the Class of 2020.

The celebration will feature the University’s Chancellor, singer-songwriter Emeli Sandé, as well as the Vice-Chancellor Sir David Bell and friends, supporters and alumni.

They will all gather to pay tribute to the graduating students. Students like Stacy Humphrey. 


And Stacy has several good reasons to celebrate graduating from the University’s Adult Nursing programme.


Not only has she achieved First-Class honours after three years of dedication and hard work, landing her dream job working on the NHS frontline as an Accident and Emergency nurse – but she’s also been awarded an annual University prize for her outstanding achievements during her degree.  

Stacy was among the first University nurses to take to the frontline as the pandemic swept the country earlier this year.  

At the same time, the 22-year-old picked up this year’s Helen McArdle Nursing Prize, after excelling in her studies and demonstrating a commitment to student affairs as a School of Nursing and Health Sciences co-ordinator and students’ representative on the University’s Board of Governors, offering a voice on behalf of others at the highest level. 

In addition to these two roles, Stacy was also Chair of the Nursing Society and was an integral part of the initiative of the Society.   

“I was surprised and overwhelmed when I received the email informing me of being the 2020 recipient of the Helen McArdle Nursing Prize, it’s fantastic news”, said Stacy, a former Monkwearmouth School pupil. 


“I have loved my time at Sunderland. The teaching and support have been fantastic, the facilities are outstanding, and I believe that it has been a great start to my nursing career.” 


The Helen McArdle Nursing Prize of £150 and a certificate, is part of multi-million-pound partnership with the philanthropist and entrepreneur that benefits teaching and research in nursing and care. Through scholarships and student prizes, Helen’s donation supports and celebrate trainee nurses at the Sunderland School of Nursing and Health Sciences. The University’s Shackleton House building was re-named Helen McArdle House in recognition of this extraordinary gift in 2019. 


Stacy, from Fulwell, is one of those students who has benefited from this state-of-the-art facility, developing skills she’s now using in her role as an A&E nurse at South Tyneside District Hospital.  

Starting her new career at a watershed time in NHS history, she said: “I know it’s a challenging time with Covid 19, but the ethos remains the same – caring and supporting those who most need our help. 


“I’m lucky in that I have a huge support network around me, from my family to the lecturers at the University. 


“I know things will be on a much bigger scale than I expected but, at the end of the day, we are there to care for those most in need. That’s the profession I’ve chosen.” 


Simone Bedford, Team Leader for Post-Graduate Nursing, said: “Stacy has grown into a superb nurse. Not only excelling in her studies but she has also become the School Co-ordinator and Student representative on the University’s Board of Governors. 


“She has supported less able students to achieve their goals, she is an inspiration and a positive role model to her peers. In my 24-year career in nursing and having worked in the NHS, RAF and four universities, I have never seen such a committed, caring, compassionate student.” 


In addition to her graduation prize, Stacy has also been shortlisted for a national Nursing Times Award - “Outstanding Contribution to Student Affairs”, which will be announced later this year.  

Asked if she would recommend a career in nursing to others, Stacy said: “I would definitely recommend the Adult Nursing course to others.  

“The support at Sunderland has been fantastic throughout the three years both on clinical placement and within the university. The facilities are outstanding from the immersive suite to the wards, it is fantastic to have the opportunity to learn in this environment and be able to simulate events prior to clinical placements.”