Hillary Gyebi-Ababio (BSc 2019) was elected Vice-President (Higher Education) for the National Union of Students last summer. She is the former Undergraduate Education Officer for the University of Bristol’s Students’ Union and a passionate advocate for education. Here, Hillary reflects on how students have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, and how the national student body are responding to these major global issues.
The University of Bristol Spelaeological Society (UBSS), founded in 1919, is the longest-running student society at Bristol. As the society celebrated their centenary in 2019, husband-and-wife duo, Bristol alumni and UBSS members Linda Wilson (LLB 1982) and Graham Mullan (1972) reflect on the magic of caving and the significance of alumni and student partnerships for sustaining a society. (more…)
Tim Gregory (PhD 2020) is a man of many talents. At any moment you might find him teaching children through BBC Bitesize revision classes, presenting BBC4’s The Sky at Night, or hosting online stargazing events for Bristol alumni.
Since graduating from the University of Bristol last year with a PhD in Cosmochemistry, Tim has worked as a postdoctoral research associate at the British Geological Survey, published his first book Meteorite: The Stones From Outer Space That Made Our World (2020), and started a new job as a nuclear chemist. He’s achieved an astonishing amount, no doubt helped along the way by his infectious enthusiasm and passion for his subject.
Recently elected as Vice President (Higher Education) for the National Union of Students (NUS), Hillary Gyebi-Ababio (BSc 2019) has taken remarkable steps since running as Undergraduate Education Officer for Bristol’s Student Union.
Empowered by her new role and inspired by an increasingly vocal national student body, Hillary shares unique insight into her experience at Bristol, the importance of her role on the Alumni Association Committee, and the integral role she believes alumni have in shaping the University and student experience.
My school’s catchment came predominantly from the council estate where I grew up – there were only 12 of us in my sixth form. I took a year out after A Levels because I needed to work. I’m the oldest of four children and my mum had lost her job so I was helping to pay for rent.
When I said I wanted to go into higher education my mum was sceptical because she always saw it as a huge expense. When I found out I had got the Futures Scholarship it felt like such a relief. The Scholarship funding has helped with my deposit for next year’s rent – I wouldn’t have been able to afford that otherwise. I also enjoy going to public lectures on topics relevant to my course. Some of these are in London so I’ve been able to afford to travel down there so I can attend.
I’m the oldest of three children. My brother, who’s a year younger than me, has cerebral palsy. Because my mum is a single mum, I like to think I’m kind of a second parental figure for my siblings. My other brother is only 12, so if mum needed someone to be in the house while she took my brother to the doctors then I would usually take on that role. As she’s a full-time carer herself, my mum can’t really have a job, so I used to do waitressing work as well, which meant that if my brothers needed anything they could let me know and I could buy it for them.
As final-year Bristol students prepare to mark the end of their time at the University through online ‘Summer Celebration’ events, we caught up with Bristol alumna Rebecca Hellen (BA 1994), to reflect on her own time at the University. A graduate of the Faculty of Arts, Rebecca worked as Senior Paintings Conservator at Tate for 18 years, and has recently taken up a new role as Specialist Advisor and Paintings Conservator at the National Trust. She shares her career story and lends some tips for how to stay creative in lockdown.
From bringing up teenagers in today’s challenging world, to children working in mines and a family saga that plays out on the southern coast of Sri Lanka, these authors present some compelling new narratives for your bookshelf.
How to Grow a Grown Up 2019
Dr Dominique Thompson (MBChB 1995) and Fabienne Vailes
Whether you are supporting a young person struggling with academic pressure, school or university life, or you are curious about what lies ahead for your child, How to Grow a Grown Up will help you to build your child’s confidence and resilience, so they can become a strong, happy and independent adult.
Co-authored by Dr Dominque Thompson (MBChN 1995) and educational expert Fabienne Vailes, How to Grow a Grown Up reveals the ways parents can help teenagers and young adults navigate contemporary pressures. The book gives invaluable insight into the challenges facing this generation of young people – from the all-pervasive nature of social media, to the pressure of constantly living their ‘best lives’. How to Grow a Grown Up offers a refreshing and practical new take on mental health, exploring pastoral care in universities and workplaces and giving advice on how to recognise signs of mental health distress.
Dominique is an award-winning GP, young people’s mental health expert, TEDx speaker, author and educator, with over 20 years of clinical experience caring for students. She was most recently Director of Service at the University of Bristol Students’ Health Service and was named Bristol Healthcare Professional of the Year in 2017.
Fabienne Vailes is French Language Director at the University of Bristol and is an educational expert who coaches teachers and students of all levels. Fabienne has 20 years experience teaching.
Liz Hyder (BA 2000)
Newt works in Bearmouth, living a life of strict routine and submission as a child worker in the mines. Characterised by oppression and quiet acceptance, Newt’s life changes dramatically when the mysterious Devlin arrives and starts to ask questions.
Written phonetically, Bearmouth is an original exploration of the power of reading, language, creativity and gender amidst a dark and claustrophobic setting, centred on a protagonist who hasn’t seen the light of day since the age of four. As well as examining the issue of child exploitation, this book celebrates the power young people have when they dare to challenge the status quo and is a bold new story for all generations.
I am different see. I am not one thing or the uvver. They call me YouNuck for I am not a boy nor yet a wimmin an they hold no truck for gels down here.
Liz Hyder is a writer, creative workshop leader and freelance arts PR professional. She graduated from the University of Bristol with a BA in Drama in 2000 and worked in BBC publicity for six years. She is on the board of Wales Art Review and is currently Film Programme Coordinator at Hay Festival.
Beautiful Place 2019
Amanthi Harris (BSc 1992, MA 1994)
As a young girl, Padma is sent by her father to live with an elderly Austrian architect, Gerhardt, at Villa Hibiscus on an exquisite patch of Sri Lanka’s southern coast. Growing up in a spectacular tropical landscape, she learns to love her seaside home.
Failing her university exams, Padma decides to open a guesthouse at the villa, introducing her to all sorts of weird and wonderful visitors. Inspired by her new vocation and the friendship and love of her guests, Padma’s world turns upside down when her father, Sunny, arrives to reclaim his daughter.
A novel about leaving and losing home, family, oppression, ambition and the struggle for independence, Beautiful Place uses a global cast of characters to explore the intricate ways individuals and communities build a sense of belonging.
This novel began after a holiday to Sri Lanka some years ago, when I travelled along the south coast, staying in rural guesthouses by the sea. My long restful days were reminiscent of my childhood home. I was keen to explore ideas of community, family and belonging, and to reflect on how friendship can arise among strangers.
Amanthi Harris was born in Sri Lanka and grew up in Colombo. A student of Chemistry and Law at the University of Bristol, Amanthi then studied Fine Art at Central St Martins and has since practised as an artist and author, living and working between the UK and Spain. She won the Gatehouse Press New Fictions award in 2016 with her novella Lantern Evening and has recently completed a book tour in India to celebrate the publishing of Beautiful Place.
Our upcoming Alumni Forum on Friday 24 April 2020 is a fun conference-style event that celebrates all things Bristol and gets alumni involved in the conversation.
This year it’s taking place in Bristol… long way, huh?! If you can’t make it, we’re asking our international alumni to join this special project to help bring the Alumni Forum to life. We’ll display photos of our alumni from around the world on the day so that a part of you can be with us in person, and so that Bristol’s global reach and impact is proudly on show.
To take part
Ask a friend to take a photo of you, or send us a selfie, with something ‘Bristol’ – a colour, a piece of clothing or something that reminds you of your university city AND a word that best describes your Bristol experience.
Send your photo, along with your name and degree information, to email@example.com or use #BristolAlumniForum to share your photo on Twitter.
Not sure what we mean? See the photo of our Engagement Officer and Bristol graduate, Ann O’Malley (BSc 2013) above. We look forward to seeing your smiling faces!
If you are able to join us, you can book your place at the Alumni Forum here.
Sam Rose (MA 2006) won Bristol Mentor of the Year 2019 for her remarkable mentoring of two students last year. She shares her experience of the programme and talks to us about what it meant to her to support an aspiring lawyer and policy maker.
What inspired you to join as a Bristol Mentor?
I loved my time studying at Bristol and mentoring was a fantastic way to re-connect with the Bristol community in a meaningful way. I remember finding the leap from studying law to moving into a career quite challenging. I couldn’t decide what sort of lawyer I wanted to be or even whether I wanted to stay in academia and study law at PhD level. I didn’t know anyone who had experience of those careers and it would have been really valuable for me to have been able to chat through the options with someone who had been there.
The team at Bristol Mentors was fantastic – really supportive and inspirational so once I had made contact with them, they made it an easy decision.
Can you tell me a bit about your mentoring partnership – who did you mentor? How did you structure the mentorship and what do you think your mentee gained from the experience?
I was spoiled to have two mentees in the first year of the scheme. As I live near Oxford and work in London, the majority of our catch-ups, which were about once a month, were over Skype, Google Hangouts or the phone.
I also reviewed application forms and CVs for them and provided written comments. We met in-person and I arranged for one mentee to do work experience at my office and for the other to have a networking lunch with two of my colleagues who had worked at law firms she was interested in.
I hope I was able to give them some professional insight into the careers they were interested in and to help them to feel confident to pursue them.
Is there anything that worked particularly well with your mentoring that you would use again with another partnership?
I think it worked well for both mentees to get insight from my colleagues as well as from me. I am lucky that in my current role I have lovely colleagues who were happy to dedicate time to have career conversations with them.
What do you enjoy most about being a mentor?
I have met two bright and inspiring young women. The scheme ended in the summer but I have had contact with both of my mentees since then and met with Tien (pictured, right) this weekend to catch up whilst she is home from her year abroad.
Why do you think mentoring is valuable?
It’s a way to pass on what you have learned to people who really value it, which is enormously rewarding. It’s also a lovely way to meet charming and intelligent young people and to stay connected with Bristol.
Do you have any tips for people who are thinking about joining as a mentor, or people who have just started a mentorship?
Don’t underestimate the value of a calm and encouraging chat with your mentees. It’s fantastic to feel that you have helped to give someone the confidence to reach for their goals.
In three words, how would you describe Bristol Mentors?
Flexible, rewarding and insightful.