Theofanis receives Excellence Scholarship to support his televison dream

Adam Gilson

Theofanis Pegkas applied for support from the Futures Fund and received an Excellence Scholarship in his final year of study. Theofanis who studied BA (Hons) Journalism at the University of Sunderland took the opportunity to undertake as much work experience as he could, he was able to spend a week at Greece's largest private television network, spent time at Look North and also had the opportunity to work with ITV Tyne Tees. The Excellence Scholarship enabled Theofanis to dedicate his final year at University to his studies and to undertake placement experiences. Theofanis who came to Sunderland from Greece to study at the University managed to achieve a first-class honours degree when he graduated in July.

Theofanis explains why he chose to study at the University of Sunderland, out of the five choices that he had made.

"The University of Sunderland was one of my five UCAS options when I was applying. I got accepted to all the universities I applied to, but there was something about Sunderland. I did some research and just before I made my final decision, I decided to come all the way from Greece to visit two of the universities. Sunderland was one of them. My experience here was more than great. People were very friendly, the facilities were state-of-the-art and the academics seemed very experienced. All these things contributed to my decision to come and study here."

Theofanis has been motivated to become a broadcast journalist since joining the University, whilst studying at Sunderland he has contributed to the University's news website (SR News) and the radio station (Spark FM), where he gained skills and experience. However, he explained that during his final year at the University, financial problems had made it difficult to concentrate on his course. "Due to the financial constraints that have occurred and in order to support my family financially, I have to work part-time as a safety steward at the Stadium of Light. This reduced my free time for studying and it was also a very exhausting job, as I have to be standing for approximately eight hours each time. This year, I also decided to learn Teeline shorthand, which is an optional module, but essential for journalists to have. Being awarded the scholarship meant that I did not have to worry about working and I spent time more efficiently, studying, doing coursework, focusing on my dissertation and undertaking more work placements, relevant to my field of studies."

Whilst at home in Greece during the summer of 2018, Theofanis was able to undertake a work experience placement with Greece's biggest private television network ERT. Theofanis tols us, "The placement enabled me to gain a lot of knowledge and to meet peopkle from the industry." Theofanis has also recently completed a placement with BBC Look North, which he said. "The placement with BBC Look North is something I was aiming for before I even started my course. I am making connections with important people and I am also improving my skills.I have gained plenty of experience and I learnt many things from my placements, as I was able to apply in practice, the theory I was learning at the University."

Whilst studying at the University of Sunderland Theofanis won two Royal Television Society (TRS) awards, Theofanis won the Student Award for News at the RTS North East and the Border (NETB) Awards for the second year running. Taking the prize for a report on Greek unemployment, a year earlier, he won the same award for a piece on a demonstration in Newcastle against US President Donald Trump.

After receiving support from the Development Office, receiving an Excellence Scholarship, Theofanis explained what receiving support from the Development Office meant to him. "The Excellence Scholarship allowed me to focus and put all of my effort towards my degree and it all paid off. I got a 90% on my final year practical project and a high 2:1 or a 1st at all my modules. Overall, they all contributed to a first class  degree, which I am really thankful for. If it wasn’t for the scholarship, I am not sure if I would have made it. I can now say I made the right choice coming here for my studies and I am now looking onwards for my next aim, which is to secure a job and become a successful journalist."

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