From politics to the power of love: in conversation with Lord Boateng

Bristol alumnus, Lord Boateng (LLB 1973, Hon LLD 2007) has made history multiple times during his ground-breaking political career. In 1987 he became one of the first Black MPs to be elected in the UK and went on to become the UK’s first Black cabinet minister in 2002.

While at the University, Paul Boateng was a committee member of the Students’ Law Club and a member of the Council of the Students’ Union. After graduating with a degree in Law in 1973, Paul qualified and completed his articles in London. He later returned to Bristol to represent defendants in the St Paul’s uprising of 1980 and thereafter continued to practice in courts in Bristol, London, Liverpool and the Midlands right up until 1997.

In April, Lord Boateng joined us in conversation to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the University’s Be More Empowered for Success programme – which exists to ensure that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students thrive at Bristol. In this event, he shared his wisdom, looked back on his time as a student and gave us some invaluable life advice. Here are some of our favourite Lord Boateng quotes from the event – from politics to the power of love.

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Dr Imke Sittel (PhD 2017): tackling climate change through plant power 

In 2019, co-founders Dr Imke Sittel (PhD 2017) and Dr David Benito-Alifonso set up Glaia – an environmentally conscious startup which is on a mission to reduce the carbon footprint of agricultural food production. The revolutionary technology behind Glaia, which Imke and David developed at the University of Bristol, uses nanomaterial-based solutions to allow plants to harvest light more efficiently. By increasing crop yields and lowering emissions, this forward-thinking startup could play a pivotal role in tackling climate change and ensuring food security in future years.

We spoke to Dr Imke Sittel to find out more about startup life and to hear her fond memories of her time at the University.

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Why I’m a Bristol Volunteer

Almost 2,000 people volunteered for the University in this academic year. We caught up with some of our volunteers to find out more about their roles and what being a Bristol Volunteer means to them.

(Top) Fran Wormald (MEng 2012) supported our Bristol Voices programme

Since moving back to Bristol, I’ve wanted to get more involved in the local community and support students at the University. I can imagine the coronavirus crisis has left students feeling isolated and lonely, with limited opportunities to meet and socialise. I wanted to be a friendly contact for a student during this difficult period.

I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the student I’ve been paired with. She and I have lots in common and get on really well. We’ve been able to talk openly about our difficulties during lockdown and what we’re looking forward to in the future.

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‘It’s important to find what’s right for you’: Bristol Mentors share their insights

One hundred alumni and students joined us on 16 March for the Big Bristol Mentors Mingle, which was our first ever Bristol Mentors virtual networking event. This was a chance for alumni, students and mentors to meet each other and share invaluable career-focused insights. (more…)

Join our telephone fundraising team!

We are recruiting for student callers to work on our Summer 2021 Telephone Fundraising campaign. This is a fantastic opportunity to join a friendly team in which you can build your skills, make a difference and gain fundraising experience.  

Are you: 

  • enthusiastic? 
  • reliable? 
  • curious? 
  • adaptable? 
  • a team player? 
  • keen to make a difference? 
  • comfortable speaking over the phone? 

If the answer to one or more of these questions is yes, we’d love to hear from you! 

As a telephone fundraiser you will call Bristol graduates to discuss what’s new at the University, answer any questions they may have, and ask for a charitable donation. It’s an important and rewarding job. In 2018/19 our team of student callers raised an incredible £151,872.32, which helped to support projects such as our Futures Scholarships and cardiovascular research. Click here to read more about the amazing things you’ll be helping to support through telephone fundraising. 

We are proud to be a Living Wage accredited employer, and you will be paid £9.50 per hour plus 12.07% holiday pay. All students are paid in arrears for the previous month’s work on the 26th of each month, or on the previous working day if this falls on a weekend or bank holiday. 

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Eileen Atieno (MEng 2018): “All of the doors were closing – but I just needed that one door to open.”

Eileen Atieno (MEng 2018) has achieved an incredible amount during her time at the University. But before she could embark on her Bristol journey, there were significant barriers that she had to overcome.

At the age of 11 Eileen moved from her home in Kenya and began studying at a secondary school in London. She achieved top grades but when she tried to apply for university, Eileen found that her visa status meant she didn’t qualify for student finance. Not one to be put off by a challenge, Eileen applied to almost a hundred bursary and funding opportunities, eventually securing one which meant she could join the University of Bristol as an Aerospace Engineering student.

After graduating in 2017, Eileen began a PhD in Advanced Composites and is now at the University exploring the mechanical properties of polymer composites. Alongside her academic work, Eileen has advocated for greater representation for Black students across her faculty and has set up outreach programmes to inspire young Black children in the Bristol area to study STEM subjects. We caught up with her to learn more about what motivates her to keep pushing for change.

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A Bristol life: Dr John Reeks (MA 2010, PhD 2015)

For over 12 years Dr John Reeks has been a part of the University of Bristol: first as an MA student, then as a PhD researcher and now as a lecturer in the Department of History. Here he tells us more about what makes the University such a special place for him.

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Inside the BBC Natural History Unit with Creative Director, Mike Gunton

Image: (L) Mike Gunton, (R) The iguana vs snakes scene from Planet Earth II. Credit: BBC Studios Natural History Unit

In 2016, millions of people up and down the UK gathered in their living rooms, biting their nails and peeping through their fingers as a newly hatched iguana fled from a swarm of snakes – narrowly escaping with its life. The iconic scene from Planet Earth II went viral worldwide and continued on to win the ‘Must-See Moment’ BAFTA award a year later. It’s a sequence that Mike Gunton (BSc 1979), Creative Director of BBC Studios Natural History Unit, has watched hundreds of times, both in the editing room and during the talks he’s given on the Natural History Unit in recent years.

‘I still love it every time I see it,’ says Mike, ‘especially the reaction it gets. It’s an extraordinary combination of brilliant camerawork and brilliant editing. That’s a once-in-a-generation kind of sequence to be honest.’

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University of Bristol Alumni in Queen’s New Year Honours List 2021

Photo by Mark de Jong on Unsplash

Every year, we’re always delighted to hear about the University of Bristol alumni who have been recognised in the Queen’s New Year Honours list for their brilliant contributions to society. Amongst those celebrated this year are many alumni who have worked incredibly hard to relieve the pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic – whether that’s through volunteering, their role in the NHS or through medical research. We’ve rounded up the alumni who featured on this year’s list alongside their awards below:

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You’re expanding postgraduate opportunities

Olivia sits on a beach smiling at the camera. She is wearing an orange top and dark trousers

Olivia Kinsman was able to take up a place at the University of Bristol this year having been awarded the Keil Scholarship, which supports PhD students in the Department of History.

I can remember taking my A-levels and knowing how much I wanted to go to university. Even then I knew that eventually I wanted to do a PhD. I’m from a single parent household with a low income and there are lots of us in the family, so growing up was really challenging at times. I’ve always been determined that I wasn’t going to let my background or finances get in the way of what I wanted to do – even if that meant saving up until I was 50 to do my PhD. For me, applying for scholarships and being proactive about reaching out for financial assistance has been really important.

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