Professor Sarah Purdy on the University’s brilliant alumni volunteers

As Pro Vice-Chancellor for Student Experience, I know how invaluable alumni volunteers are to our University community.

There are over 2,400 alumni across the world who act as Bristol Volunteers. These volunteers help in so many different ways, whether that be through mentoring students, organising activities for fellow alumni or sharing their experiences of Bristol. (more…)

Giving back through volunteering

(c) David Pratt

Chris Edwards (BA 2015) shared his expertise with students by volunteering as a panellist at an alumni careers event.

I graduated from the University with a degree in Italian and Spanish six years ago, and I now work for the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. In my role, I look at how we can partner with the private sector to support the growth of start-ups across Africa and Asia. These businesses have a huge impact on the low-income groups they serve; they provide critical products and services at affordable prices, from clean energy to safe water, hygienic sanitation, digital healthcare and beyond. We work with them to expand this impact and become financially sustainable. (more…)

Championing PhD research

(c) David Pratt

Lucy Parnall, Head of Bristol Doctoral College and Research Strategy, illustrates the way legacy gifts have helped PhD students during the pandemic.

Part of my role as the Head of Bristol Doctoral College is to enhance the experience of postgraduate researchers and to make sure our PhD students have a positive time at Bristol. We run the PGR Hub, a dedicated space for postgraduate researchers to meet up with colleagues and attend training sessions. We also work to equip our students with the skills and experience they need to be successful during and beyond their PhDs, in academia and in other careers.

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Providing Sanctuary Scholarships

(c) David Pratt

Gbemisola Ogunlade (MSci 2020) explains how the University’s Sanctuary Scholarship programme changed her life.

I was born in Lagos, Nigeria and I arrived in the UK when I was eight years old. It took a while for me to integrate into a new culture and make friends, but I had really supportive teachers which helped. My teachers used to tell me that I’d be a good doctor because I loved science, especially biology. But when I did my A Levels I studied psychology and fell in love with the subject. I got to learn about so many theories and philosophies that I could apply to my own life. I could see how I would be able to use it to help others and make a change in my community.

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Supporting scientific discoveries

(c) David Pratt

Philanthropic support has allowed PhD student Amy Holt to explore how aspirin could improve bowel cancer treatments.

I’ve always found cell biology fascinating: the way that cells work, how they build us as human beings and how they can cause disease. It’s what drew me to studying cancer. By learning about what goes wrong in cancer cells, we also learn a lot about normal cells and how they should function.

Bowel cancer has one of the highest mortality rates of any cancer, because it’s often detected at quite a late stage. Researchers have established that taking aspirin for long periods of time decreases your risk of developing bowel cancer. But what we don’t know is exactly why that is. Throughout my PhD, my research group and I have been exploring how aspirin influences cellular functions to make cells less likely to become cancerous and to slow the progression of a cancer. (more…)

Jessica Felton-Page (BSc 2007): Fighting food waste at Rubies in The Rubble

In the UK, an estimated 20 to 40% of all fruit and vegetables grown for human consumption are rejected before they reach the shops. This means that around 9.5 million tonnes of food is thrown away annually. This is mainly because they do not match the supermarkets’ strict cosmetic standards meaning they are not the right colour, shape or size to be deemed attractive for sale.*

Jessica Felton-Page works for Rubies in the Rubble, an ethical food company that fights food waste by using the “unattractive” fruit and vegetables to make beautiful condiments. The company suggests “if we stop wasting food that could have been eaten, the benefit to the planet would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road.” In 2020 alone, the company cooked 115 tonnes of rejected produce into delicious sauces, rescuing them from going to waste. Their mission is to double that number in the following year.

In early November, Jessica will join a panel discussion on Responsible Businesses, with insights and advice from other career experts in the sustainability profession. Ahead of the event, we spoke to Jessica about her journey from an undergraduate degree in Chemistry to fighting food waste at Rubies in the Rubble and her memories of studying in Bristol. (more…)

Vincent Onuegbu (BA 2018) Co-Founder of Young Goat: a clothing brand with purpose

Founded by a group of University of Bristol graduates, Young Goat is a clothing and lifestyle brand that’s driven by its values. Since launching in 2019, Young Goat has amassed a loyal fan base (pleasingly referred to as the Herd) and has appeared in publications including GQ and Vanity Fair. As the brand goes from strength to strength, they’re using their platform to raise money for mental health charities in Bristol and beyond.

Throughout Black History Month, Young Goat will be raising money in memory of their friend Olisa Odukwe, who very sadly passed away earlier this year. The Young Goat team will be donating all profits made through sales of a special edition t-shirt to Black Minds Matter, a charity which connects Black individuals and families with free mental health services.

We spoke to one of Young Goat’s founding members, Partnerships Lead Vincent Onuegbu (BA 2018), to hear more about what the brand stands for.

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Alumni and students share their marathon experience

Claire Evans (BA 1991) running the London Marathon 2021.

On 3 October, a fantastic group of Bristol alumni and students ran the 2021 London Marathon, raising over £10,000 for the University’s Healthy Minds Programme. They each ran an incredible 26.2 miles, raising awareness of the importance of physical activity on mental health and the vital nature of the programme itself.

The Healthy Minds programme helps students who are experiencing mental health difficulties by providing them with a bespoke physical activity plan and access to sports facilities. Students are paired up with a mentor – a member of the University fitness team with advanced mental health training – who coaches them throughout their time on the programme. (more…)

AssessmentDay Director, Oliver Savill (MEng 2006): taking the fear out of psychometric testing

We all know how it feels to sit an exam that we haven’t properly prepared for. The racing heartbeat. The sweaty palms. The feeling of impending doom. It’s a sensation that Bristol graduate Oliver Savill (MEng 2006) has helped thousands of people to avoid.

During his final year at the University, Oliver had to sit a number of psychometric tests for graduate job applications. After struggling to find resources which could help him to revise, he took matters into his own hands by launching AssessmentDay – which is now the UK’s number one site for practice psychometric tests. Here, he reflects on his time at Bristol and his entrepreneurial career path.

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