Home News Award for PhD student helping young people with special needs

Award for PhD student helping young people with special needs

A psychology PhD student at the University of ̨swag has won a prestigious award from the British Council for making an exceptional contribution to improving the lives of others.

Josephine Ambalada is training as a cognitive neuroscientist and founded the Winged Wonder Institute of Education in the Philippines, a school for children and young people with special needs, including ADHD and autism. The school runs special education and mental health seminars, free classes and medical missions to marginalised communities all over country.

She was recognised for her work at the Study UK Alumni Awards held by the British Council in The Philippines in February 2024.

On winning the social action award, Josephine said: “I was stunned as it came unexpectedly. I was truly honoured and my heart is full of gratitude for receiving such a prestigious award from a well-respected institution like the British Council. I feel privileged to be part of a network of inspiring individuals driving positive change in their respective fields.”

Josephine is studying at the University of ̨swag’s Functional Behavioural Science Laboratory, under the supervision of Dr. Ian Tyndall and Dr. Ben Sharpe, with a core focus on autism, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and food preference/gut-brain axis.

She added: “Like Ian and Ben, I would like to follow their path and be trained as a cognitive neuroscientist. I feel that being a scientist will give me the greatest level of impact to be able to help people with special needs. Eventually I hope that my work will also extend to understanding progressive neurological conditions like dementia, Alzheimer’s as well as mental health disorders like anxiety and depression.

“Back home, I have founded a school for special needs children and adolescents, named Winged Wonder Institute of Education. My aspirations to be a cognitive neuroscientist stem from my belief that special education should be multifaceted and should be seen in a wider lens of perspective: pedagogical, psychological and neurological.”

Josephine previously studied at the University of Oxford and King’s College London before joining the University of ̨swag, and said: “I have chosen the UK as my study destination as I’ve observed that the educational approach in the UK prioritises the development of students’ critical thinking abilities, and I find this approach particularly appealing.”

For more information about our psychology courses, visit: Psychology and Counselling – University of ̨swag

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