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James over the moon with award

James McKevitt with Ana Perales of Barclays Bank and Rachel Riley. (1910850)
James McKevitt with Ana Perales of Barclays Bank and Rachel Riley. (1910850)

The sky is the limit for a former Spalding Grammar School student from Cowbit after winning a top UK award for university students.

James McKevitt (19), in his first year of an aeronautical engineering degree at Loughborough University, was named UK Undergraduate of the Year for Innovation at an awards ceremony in London.

Chosen from more than 3,300 UK undergraduates across 12 categories, James was the second student from South Holland to win an award after former Spalding High School deputy head girl Holly Hetherington (20) took the Management Award at the same event.

James said: “Everyone in my category was absolutely incredible and I felt quite honoured to be considered amongst people who had done so much great work.

“I was just very lucky to have been chosen as the Innovation Award winner.”

After a demanding three-stage process, including an application and questionnaire form, online assessment and interview, James was one of ten students to be shortlisted as a finalist.

He said: “My university sent me an email about the awards and I thought it looked like something worth applying for because it had interesting career implications for me.

“I had to write an article about the UK economy and the impact of Brexit, as well as what kind of space there would be for economic innovation in the future.

“There was also a chance to explain how I’d been innovative in my studies, having done a lot of work on STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Maths) activities because there’s a big imbalance between male and female job applicants.

“Then I had to complete a lot of online assessments to see how well I’d do in the workplace and how open I was to new ideas.”

James was interviewed in London before being invited to an awards ceremony organised by graduate careers media group GTI and hosted by TV presenter Rachel Riley.

Among the prizes won by James was a two-week internship with award sponsors Barclays Bank, office space at the bank’s Canary Wharf office and the chance to meet leading figures in finance and technology.

James said: “I couldn’t believe the connection between myself and Holly until she shared the story about herself in the Spalding Guardian.

“The award could have easily gone to any of the people shortlisted in my category as they were a great group of self-motivated and intelligent people.

“It was truly inspiring and a privilege to have been considered alongside them.”

‘I was very lucky to have been chosen as the Innovation Award winner’

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