A FORRES man who has made a difference to the lives of students with disabilities and additional support needs around the Highlands and Islands has been presented with a prestigious award.
Mark Ross, 28, of Alexandra Terrace, was given a Vice-Chancellor’s Medal by his employer, the University of the Highlands and Islands. The accolade recognises “outstanding contributions to the mission of the university”.
Mark started out as a student at the university in 2004, undertaking a BA in social sciences through Moray College UHI. Once he graduated, he took up a post of disability support coordinator with the university, hoping his personal experience would help him to understand and support the needs of others.
Mark’s medal recognises his work in helping the university to become an accredited Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) assessment centre. Before this, students from the Highlands and Islands wishing to claim this allowance typically had to travel to Dundee or Motherwell for assessment.
Mark also led the development of a dyslexia sticker scheme which means students with dyslexia receive a standardised level of support from the university.
Mark was nominated for the award by the university’s former principal, Professor James Fraser CBE.
He was presented with his medal at a staff meeting and was asked to attend Tuesday’s Holyroodhouse Garden Party in Edinburgh on behalf of the university. The event was hosted by Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh.
Speaking about his award, Mark said: “I feel immensely proud and privileged to be able to contribute positively to the experience of students throughout the university region and to have been given the honour of representing the university at the Garden Party.
“For me, my medal recognises the exceptional efforts of every student, needs assessor and other member of staff involved with our DSA accreditation.”
Dr Iain Morrison, the university’s dean of students and Mark’s former line manager, believes Mark’s award is thoroughly deserved.
He explained: “Mark epitomises the positive impact this university can have on the experience of people in our region: through hard work and intelligence, he continues to enhance the ways we support some of our most vulnerable students.”
Professor Clive Mulholland, the university’s principal and vice-chancellor said: “Ensuring every student is supported to succeed must be at the heart of what we do.
“Developments like becoming an accredited DSA assessment centre are vital to this mission so I would like to thank Mark for his sterling work and congratulate him on this award.”
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