A student from Queen Margaret University (QMU), Musselburgh, East Lothian, has won an academic excellence award, the Sandie Randall award, after overcoming an eating disorder.
Caitlin Canavan, a fourth year International Hospitality & Tourism Management student, has now become a Scottish Young Ambassador for national eating disorder charity, Beat, to help support other young people in Scotland affected by eating disorders.
The news comes as National Eating Disorders Awareness Week begins in the UK, from 23rd February to 1st March 2015.
Caitlin has donated half of her Sandie Randall award money to Beat, to help fund the charity’s work. Sandie Randall, former Head of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure Management at QMU, has continued her association with the University after her retirement in 2008 by gifting the generous annual award to support student development.
Commenting on her Sandie Randall Award and her experience of living with an eating disorder, Caitlin said: “Starting university whilst recovering from an eating disorder is both scary and exciting. It can be challenging to fit your regular meals around classes and to eat with new people. In my case, studying hospitality at QMU meant attending cookery school, where I struggled at first with the tasting stage of the cooking process. However, university can offer many people a new start, a fresh slate and a new environment.
“I’ve proven that you can be academically successful after beating anorexia. Winning the Sandie Randall Award has allowed me to reflect on my time at university and to recognise what recovery has enabled me to do. Recovery has allowed me to enjoy four years of study, to make lifelong friends, and to achieve in a healthy way.”
Caitlin’s advice to anybody studying at university whilst in recovery from an eating disorder is to engage with all student services available, including the University’s counselling services and support via the Queen Margaret Students’ Union.
The Beat charity has also played a huge part in Caitlin’s recovery. The consistent message from Beat is that “eating disorders can be beaten”. This message has provided continual hope for Caitlin and her family during her recovery.
For more information on Beat and National Eating Disorders Awareness Week visit www.b-eat.co.uk