Wed 18 Jan 23
An Essex linguistics postgraduate who co-founded a foreign language school for children with specific learning difficulties has been shortlisted for this year’s Study UK Alumni Awards.
Dr Polyxeni Konstantinopoulou, who studied an MA in Language Disorders at Essex in 2008-2009, has been put forward for the Social Action Award in the Europe region.
Along with close friend and fellow Essex graduate Viveta Lymperaki, Dr Konstantinopoulou co-founded the My Way school in Northern Greece – the only institute of its kind in the region to teach foreign languages to children with specific learning needs.
The school now has more than 70 pupils enrolled, with its teaching staff growing from two to ten in just a few years.
Dr Konstantinopoulou described being shortlisted for a Study UK Alumni Award as a “great honour”, adding the recognition was “marvellous”.
She said: “At My Way, we respect the needs of each student and recognise that each one of us has a different way of learning, and therefore of teaching.
“Our goal is for our students to feel safety and confidence in the teaching environment, to experience academic success and also personal empowerment and self-awareness.
“As in the UK, the halls and all areas of our centre are tailored and equipped to provide all of the above to our students.”
Receiving two Scholarships of Excellence for PhD and Postdoctoral studies awarded by the Research Committee of AUTh, Greece, Dr Konstantinopoulou has given lectures in BA and MA degrees, has presented scientific abstracts in conferences worldwide, and has collaborated with many educational-academic bodies in her community regarding diversity and Specific Learning Differences.
She highlighted: “The high academic impact of the UK university promoted local, national and international networking.
“This directly affected my career as it was the liaison between the UK and Greece and bridged my MA with my PhD degree.”
Dr Konstantinopoulou has also helped introduced dog therapy at My Way after seeing its effective use in the UK.
She has credited the University of Essex for inspiring them to set up the school.
Dr Konstantinopoulou added: “Studying at the University of Essex was a turning point in my life.
“The academic environment at University of Essex was very decisive in achieving my goals in many ways.
“The mentality of open horizons and thinking 'outside the box' created a very stimulating and informative environment that broadened our knowledge, enhanced our spirit and taught us how to manage demanding educational situations, scientific issues and think beyond the obvious.
“I can only say that University of Essex filled my life with many opportunities and from that point my life drew its line itself.”
The Study UK Alumni Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of alumni and showcase the impact and value of a UK higher education.
Award winners and finalists are leaders in their fields who have used their experience of studying at a UK university to make a positive contribution to their communities, professions and countries.