"Helping protect the wellbeing of children means a lot to me": Wolfson student wins Vice-Chancellor's Social Impact Award

Nomisha Kurian, Wolfson PhD candidate in Education, has won the PhD Student Award at the 2023 Vice-Chancellor’s Social Impact Awards.  

Nomisha with her PhD thesis at Wolfson College

The Vice Chancellor's awards, organised by Cambridge Hub, recognise and celebrate exceptional achievement in contributing to society.

The PhD Student Award honours “outstanding PhD students who have made an impressive social impact through their exceptional work”. 

Nomisha, who specialises in wellbeing and inclusion for at-risk children, picked up the prize thanks to numerous impactful initiatives, including working with global humanitarian aid organisations and designing and delivering Widening Participation Interventions for over 200 low-income and state school children across the UK's high-deprivation neighbourhoods.  

Nomisha has over a dozen academic publications on protecting children's rights and building cultures of care in schools, and presented her work on technology and children's mental health at the UNESCO AI and Education 2022 Forum.  

“I am deeply grateful for the University's kind encouragement,” said Nomisha. “Helping to protect the wellbeing of children and young people means a lot to me. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work in this field and even more grateful for the support of colleagues and nonprofits, without whom this work would not have been possible.” 

"Exceptional work"

Nomisha’s work has focused on contributing to children's wellbeing across four sectors: global humanitarian aid, academic research, local community nonprofits, and schools.  

“Moments that have made me feel humbled and grateful include designing and teaching my own courses for children from 8 to 18, speaking at the UNESCO AI and Education Forum, publishing with the Harvard Refugee REACH Initiative, co-authoring reports for organisations such as the World Bank, co-chairing two University research groups on building peace and wellbeing through education, and publishing 14 peer-reviewed publications.  

“I am very grateful to every one of the incredible colleagues and partners I have worked with - not to mention the children, who have deepened my passion to keep advocating for every child's right to a safe and inclusive future.” 

"Inspiring to witness"

The Acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr Anthony Freeling, was effusive in his praise of all the students nominated at this year’s awards. 

“It is truly inspiring to witness the innovative and creative ways in which our students have worked tirelessly for social and climate justice, promoted equal opportunities and access to education, addressed mental health issues and loneliness, and championed the protection of the natural world. 

“I am proud of all the brilliant students at the University of Cambridge who have used their talents, kindness, and compassion to support good causes and improve our communities. Your tireless efforts in making a positive impact have not gone unnoticed. Your work has brought hope, inspiration, and positivity to our communities, and I am incredibly grateful for all that you have accomplished.” 

Committed to child wellbeing

Nomisha is currently researching the role of AI in child wellbeing at the Leverhulme Centre. 

“Some of the questions that my academic publications have examined include: what ethical questions does Artificial Intelligence raise for children's rights? How can child-refugees be supported to cope with the trauma of losing their homes overnight? How can we best support children who lose a parent in early childhood? How can children in hospital be made to still feel welcome in their school community?” 

Nomisha has also obtained a Teaching Associate position at the University, and says she is “delighted to be able to continue my research and praxis for child wellbeing”. 

In the meantime, she says she has enjoyed the “generous and internationally-minded spirit” of Wolfson, adding that the College is “a truly global community”. 

Discover more

You can read Nomisha's blog on the Cambridge Hub website

Read more about all the winners of this year's Social Impact Awards on the University's website