Alumni

Alumni Awards

The University of Leicester Alumni Awards are an annual celebration of special achievements of the University of Leicester Alumni. They are presented at the Alumni Awards Dinner. This is the premier event in the University's social calendar and organised by the University’s Alumni Engagement team within the wider Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO), as well as the Alumni Association.

Nominations our now open for our Alumni Awards 2023! The Alumni Awards are a chance for us to celebrate the exceptional talent and achievements of our outstanding alumni community. 

The awards you can nominate for are as follows:

Dr Mark Sims Memorial Award for Public Service

This award is all about an alumnus or alumna who, through community work, fundraising or volunteering, has had an inspiring positive social impact or has provided outstanding public service. In memory of alumnus Dr Mark Sims, who following his own cancer diagnosis went on to raise thousands of pounds for cancer research.

Alumna/Alumnus of the Year Award

This award is for an exceptional University of Leicester graduate who has made a significant impact in their field of expertise, or more widely to society within the last 3 years. This can span across all industries but may include: leadership, innovation, entrepreneurial achievement or research excellence.

Future Leaders Award

This award recognises exceptional accomplishment early in the nominees’ post-University career. Nominees will likely have demonstrated early career or community service achievements or displayed innovative practices in their field within the first 10 years after graduation, becoming inspiring role models for students and fellow early-career graduates alike.

Previous award winners

Read profiles and watch videos from previous Alumni Award/outstanding lifetime achievement winners who have shared their achievements with us before and after receiving their award, what the award means to them, and more.

Rhonda Bennet Philanthropy Award Winner (2022) - David Barry

David Barry FCMA (Mathematics BSc, 1965)

Now retired, David is the former Vice President of Finance at CNH Global and spent 40 years working in the industry. David has been a long-standing supporterDavid Barry Image of the University beginning his philanthropic journey in 1998 by supporting the Jubilee Campaign and also attending many University events.

In 2011, David set up the Susan Helen Wiley Memorial Fund, in memory of his late wife. The memorial fund supports undergraduate students in Geography, the subject his wife studied at Leicester, who need funding to participate in optional field courses in the third year. Since then he has also set up and donated to the David Barry Endowed Postgraduate Fund, known as the “Alumni Scholarship Fund”, this endowed fund was set up in 2014 to support the cost of postgraduate students in need.

As well as the Women in Maths fund which is a fully endowed scholarship for female postgraduate Mathematics students on a Postgraduate Degree (MSc) in Mathematics, David has also supported Big Data, a match funding campaign for 1960s graduates and most recently the COVID-19 response fund. David continues to top up his three endowments regularly.

In total David’s generosity and passion for supporting students and education has meant he has donated over £115,000 to the University.

Alumna / Alumnus of the Year Award Winner (2022) - Jeffrey Boakye

Jeffery Boakye (English BA, 2003)

Jeffrey is an author, broadcaster, educator and journalist with a particular interest in education, race, masculinity and popular culture, using the arts to engageJeffery Boakye image his audience and to examine complex and difficult issues.

Jeffrey is an acclaimed author of books including Hold Tight; Black, Listed; Musical Truth and most recently, I Heard What you Said, and co-author of What is Masculinity? Why does it Matter? and Other Big Questions. Jeffrey’s books cover a range of topics from his experience as a black student and teacher, to exploring Black British history through music. Jeffrey also has upcoming books including Musical World, a follow-up to Musical Truth, as well as a children's story Kofi and the Rap Battle Summer – the first of three books in a new series that features a young, black protagonist. Several of his books are aimed at children – empowering a new generation of readers and providing diversity to children’s literature.

As well as being a journalist who writes for The Guardian, The Observer, The Financial Times and GQ magazine, Jeffrey co-hosts BBC Radio 4’s Add to Playlist.

Having written his first three books whilst working full-time as a teacher shows that it is possible to succeed in the tough world of publishing if you have a distinct voice and something important to say.

Lifetime Achievement Award Winner (2022) - Sir Nicholas Green

Sir Nicholas Green (Law LLB, 1980; Honorary Doctor of Laws, 2017)

Sir Nicholas Green made his name in a landmark case against the UK government, since then Sir Nick’s meteoric rise has continued. He was appointed Queen’sNick Green Image Counsel in 1998, becoming UK Permanent Representative to the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe in 2000-2002, he was also appointed Bencher of the Inner Temple in 2002 and made Recorder in 2004. In 2009 he was elected Chair of the Bar Council, the professional body of all barristers in England and Wales for a year and in 2011 became Joint Head of Brick Court Chambers.

In 2013 Sir Nick was awarded a Queen’s Honour and appointed as a judge of the High Court of Justice. Appointments are made by the Queen on recommendations, based on decades of distinguished work. He was appointed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, a formal body of advisers to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom in 2018, as well as being appointed Lord Justice of Appeal, the first from Leicester.

Sir Nick has also been a long-standing supporter of the University participating in Law School activities such as lectures and talks, judging extra-curricular court competitions, as well as being an Honorary Professor.

Future Leader Award Winner (2022) - Alanis Ortiz Espinoza

Alanis Ortiz Espinoza (LLB Law (JD Pathway), 2021)

Upon graduating, Alanis received the Frank May Cup for Volunteering Finalist Award in recognition of her contribution to the University and wider community andAlanis Espinoza Image dedicated hundreds of hours to the University’s Pro Bono Society, the Leicester Law Review, the Peer Mentor programme and the Library Champions programme. In a year Alanis dedicated around 1,000 hours to volunteer for NGOs, campaigns, workshops, webinars, and conferences.

In 2021, Alanis was selected by Equal Voice, a national organisation that advocates for the equal representation of women in Canada’s Parliament, to represent her federal riding in the House of Commons in Canada for the Daughters of the Vote programme. Soon after, she founded an initiative to support students interested in becoming licensed lawyers in Ontario and she tirelessly works to support students throughout their lives.

Alanis is a Director at the Canadian Hispanic Bar Association where she advocates for Latin American lawyers across Canada, Director at Equal Voice, Secretary and Executive Member at the Ontario Bar Association, and Advocacy Committee Member at the Women’s Law Association of Ontario, as well as an Executive Member on the CBA.

In December, 2021, Alanis co-hosted a conference with hundreds of attendees, including the Canadian Prime Minister, to celebrate 100 years of women MPs.

Alumni Association Graduating Student of the Year Award Winner (2022) - Megan Perks

Megan Parks (Physics with Space Science, 2022)

Megan is Co-President of the University’s astronomical society, Astrosoc, and successfully secured funding for 22 of its members to attend the prestigiousMegan Perks Image UKSEDS National Student Space Conference.

As part of the fourth-year research project, Megan worked with members of the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer (JUICE), a European Space Agency (ESA) mission, at the University. Megan was tasked with developing an algorithm to assess two proposed trajectories, investigating the scientific opportunities offered by the different mission plans, and evaluating whether spacecraft resources, power and data rate, were capable of meeting the scientific requirements of several different instruments. This was a challenge worthy of spacecraft planners in the ESA, yet Megan made progress with speed and has been performing at a level that would be impressive for a 1st year PhD student.

In the summer of 2021, Megan was awarded an extremely competitive internship with ESA with applications from across 20+ countries. Working with a team at ESTEC, Megan developed a citizen-science project to search for satellite trails in Hubble Space Telescope observations. Her contribution impressed her advisors and a paper is about to be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal on the outcome. Megan has been invited to represent the team at the European Astronomical Society meeting in Valencia, Spain, this summer.

Dr Mark Sims Memorial Award For Public Service Winner (2022) - Shailesh Shinde

Shailesh Shinde (Advanced Mechanical Engineering with Management Industry MSc, 2018)

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shailesh and a group of University alumni established ‘PPE For Heroes’ to help provide free 3D printed face shields toShailesh Shinde Image frontline staff.

Shailesh led the initiative contacting alumni in the UK and India, establishing a network of 50 volunteers with nine 3D printers. He also started a crowdfunding campaign raising over £1,500 in the UK and ₹50,000 (INR) in India to ensure they could buy raw materials, as well as establishing a website and social media platforms to take requests for face shields, mainly from care homes.

The initiative attracted local media attention and was featured on BBC Radio Leicester, as well as in the Institution of Mechanical Engineers newsletter.

Shailesh’s determination and professional and alumni network enabled him to have a positive impact on society in what was a challenging and frightening time for many.

Fellow alumni supporting Shailesh and this initiative include:

  • Milan Kerung (Advanced Mechanical Engineering and Management MSc, 2018)
  • Shatabdi Dutta Roy (Software Engineering for Financial Services and Industry MSc, 2017)
  • Shashidar Ette (Advanced Software Engineering with Industry MSc, 2018)
  • Tony Kenny (Web Applications and Services MSc, 2020)
  • Liam Jordan (Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience BSc, 2021)

Lifetime Achievement Award winner (2020) - David Cousins

Profile of Dave CousinsWhat have you been doing since you won the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020?

I was thrilled to be presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2020 for my work as a songwriter and musician, after having been the principal songwriter and leader of Strawbs for over fifty years. Unfortunately, two weeks after being presented with the Award the first lockdown started, but the band and I were determined to write and produce a whole new Strawbs album. The first song wrote itself – ‘Strange Times’, and the album ‘Settlement’ was written and recorded remotely and released by Cherry Red Records in February 2021, reaching No 2 in the Official Folk Album charts and No 3 in the Official Progressive Album charts! 

What does winning an alumni award mean to you? 

Winning an alumni award is recognition that my music has resonated around the world and is appreciated by people whose opinions I value and respect.  

What made you choose Leicester and what has studying at Leicester enabled and inspired you to do since graduation?  

The promotional brochure from the University was far more interesting than any of the others I considered. I was convinced that Leicester was where I wanted to study as their spirituality about the area was something that I had not experienced before, having lived in West London. I deliberately chose the general degree and I am grateful to The University of Leicester for providing such broad subjects, as the breadth of knowledge that I gained from one-year courses in Psychology and British Archaeology broadened my horizons.  

What is the one skill that the University helped you develop and which you have continued to use?   

To this day I still use the mathematical disciplines in complex spread sheets not only for cash flow projections but also for planning social projects for The Commonwealth Medical Trust, of which I am a trustee. The structured discipline has also been beneficial in the methodology of song writing, album planning, and tour budgeting. 

Reflecting on your time at University – what are you most grateful for? 

When I reflect on my time at The University of Leicester, I am most grateful for the social experience of developing friendships with people who were far more mature than myself.  

What was your proudest moment during your time at Leicester and what do you continue to be proud of when thinking about the University of Leicester? 

I have fond memories of becoming the first ever chairman of the newly formed University Folk Cub and my proudest moment was organising the University’s first Folk Festival. 

What advice do you have for anyone who would like to enter a similar work role to you? 

I advise anyone who wishes to have a career within the music industry to get the best music business lawyer you can afford before signing any contract. I wish I had taken my own advice! 

What did you discover about yourself whilst studying with us? 

During my time at the University of Leicester, I learned to look beyond the straightforward direct answer to any question and think laterally, giving me the grounding and confidence that I have relied on ever since. For that, I am eternally grateful. 

What ambitions do you have for the future? 

I aspire to write the songs for another Strawbs album in the future. 

Future Leader Award Winner (2020) - Mesut Erzurumluoglu

Find out more about what Future Leader alumni award winner Mesut, has achieved since graduating (including working as a researcher for The University of Leicester) and what winning an alumni award means to him.

Future Leader Award Winner (2019) - Angela Stienne

Angela Stienne HeadshotWhat have you been up to since you won the Future Leader Award in 2019? 

At the time of receiving my award, I was completing a fellowship at the Science Museum, which ended in December 2019. I then took an 18 month break to create an online museum called The Lyme Museum, which responded to current events and I also wrote my first book.  

What does winning an alumni award mean to you? 

It was significant to get this award because my research in museum studies always felt a bit different from what others were doing, so to see my work with refugees and digital projects recognised meant a lot. Also, growing up with an invisible disability meant that I did not see people like me doing great things and winning awards - there was a representation issue. So, winning an award as a person with an invisible illness and disability was so important. 

What made you choose Leicester and what has studying at Leicester enabled and inspired you to do since graduation? 

In 2013 I came to Leicester to complete MA in Museum Studies, as it was such a vibrant place and so multi-cultural. I loved it and the University so much that I stayed for a PhD and I am now an Honorary Research Fellow! But, for me, the most important thing it has taught me is the power of community and diversity. 

What is the one skill that the University helped you develop and which you have continued to use? 

Public speaking for sure! I started giving my first talks during my PhD, and I got small grants to attend conferences. This dramatically helped me to develop a strong skillset in public speaking and my work now would look very different if I did not gain this skill set during my time at Leicester. 

Reflecting on your time at University – what are you most grateful for? 

I am incredibly grateful for the people I met during my time at Leicester - from my tremendous supervisors to friends for life who now live around the world. 

What was your proudest moment during your time at Leicester and what do you continue to be proud of when thinking about the University of Leicester? 

Graduations were proud moments for me. Having my parents and sister attend made my little childhood dream come true and I went on to earn a PhD in a foreign language! When I think about the University of Leicester, I now know that the environment solidified my goal to continue with my studies and complete a PhD in just three years. 

What advice do you have for anyone who would like to enter a similar work role to you? 

My advice for anyone that would like to enter a similar career as myself would be to practice communication skills as they are extremely important. Also, make sure you try new things and stay curious as you can do many things with your studies, and you do not have to follow one set path.  

What did you discover about yourself whilst studying with us? 

Whilst studying at The University of Leicester, I discovered that I could use my voice to amplify important causes and give others a voice. Furthermore, due to being in an environment that fostered independent thinking, I learned to have confidence in my ideas, that my opinion matters and that small projects can have a significant impact.  

Have you been to any alumni events since winning your award? What was your favourite event? 

I attend online events as I returned to France 18 months ago. I eagerly await returning to the UK to see my friends graduate and for the Centenary Alumni Celebration!  

What ambitions do you have for the future? 

In the future, I plan to keep writing and developing digital and in-person projects that give people a voice and make them think 'wait, I feel seen, I matter, I am visible' when they head back home.

Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award winner (2015) - Dr Diana Garnham

Dr Diana Garnham receiving an Honorary DegreeWhat have you been up to since you won the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award in 2015?

Since winning the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award in 2015, I have stood down from my role as CEO at the Science Council and now support voluntary organisations and charities with good governance and strategy on a consultancy basis. More recently, I have been working on developing a new volunteer-based literacy support scheme in East Sussex for early years students who have fallen even further behind during Covid, as well as joining the Construction Industry Training Board as an independent member.

What does winning an alumni award mean to you?

Receiving an alumni award was an incredibly special experience. Having my work recognised by the University helps to positively highlight the benefits of having a career in the voluntary sector.

What made you choose Leicester and what has studying at Leicester enabled and inspired you to do since graduation?

Although I liked the idea of studying in a medium-size institution, it was in fact the course that made me choose The University of Leicester. Having the opportunity to study five subjects in my first year, four of which were new to me, was an exciting and challenging opportunity that helped me understand a world way beyond my A level subjects. Since graduating, I have been inspired to continuously campaign for the things I believe in and drive the implementation of change in the areas I think matter for society.

What is the one skill that the University helped you develop and which you have continued to use?

One of the top skills that I learned during my time at The University of Leicester, which I continue to use, is articulating my thoughts and ideas, both on paper and verbally. As a result, I have the ability to put a good business case together, present it and win support.

Reflecting on your time at University – what are you most grateful for?

Leicester was the right fit for me both academically and socially. I am most grateful for having the personal support I needed at times of pressure and stress but also the space to develop who I am and get involved in voluntary activities in the town.

What was your proudest moment during your time at Leicester and what do you continue to be proud of when thinking about the University of Leicester?

Reading my exam results and realising I had done well and that all my hard work was worth it, coupled with being awarded an Honorary Doctorate were two of the proudest moment during my time at The University of Leicester.

What advice do you have for anyone who would like to enter a similar work role to you?

For anyone wishing to have a similar career path as me, I would advise whilst at University take up the opportunities on offer beyond your degree. Your subject knowledge alone will rarely be enough to get on in life – the other skills matter equally as much. Show your employers you are a well-rounded individual by getting involved in clubs, societies, campaigns, voluntary work. Also remember you never stop learning, so read widely to understand the world around you.

What did you discover about yourself while studying with us?

Whilst studying at Leicester, I realised that I loved to study and learn but I was not cut out to be the geography teacher I initially set out to be.

Have you been to any alumni events since winning your award? What was your favourite event?

I thoroughly enjoy attending the annual alumni dinners and look forward to the next one.

What ambitions do you have for the future?

In the future, I will endeavour to use my skills and energy for as long as I can to build a fairer society. I am currently developing a new volunteer-based literacy support scheme in East Sussex for early years students who have fallen even further behind during Covid.

Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award winner (2013) - Margaret Nkrumah

Margaret Nkrumah HeadshotWhat does winning an alumni award mean to you?  

Winning the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award in 2013 was both an incredible honour and a great surprise. My years in Leicester are among the best in my long life and it gives me immense pleasure that I have made my University proud. I have followed Leicester's ascending star from the small University College in the early '60s when I was there, to its present stature and status in the world and its pioneering distant education reach, particularly in Africa. So I am enormously proud to be a part of the Leicester Alumni community! 

What have you been up to since you won the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award in 2013?  

Since winning the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award in 2013, I am still involved with education, mainly at the governance level. I have also continued my engagement with the SOS Children's Villages International. Having also celebrated my 80th birthday in June, it is hard to believe that over 60 years have flown by since I left Leicester in 1963! 

What made you choose Leicester and what has studying at Leicester enabled and inspired you to do since graduation? 

When I visited Leicester, I immediately fell in love with the campus, the open and friendly behaviour of the students, and their eagerness to embrace me into their fold. Since graduating, Leicester taught me to strive to and maintain high standards in all aspects of my life which has guided me throughout my life and career. 

What is the one skill that the University helped you develop and which you have continued to use?  

The University of Leicester helped me develop the ability to question, look for the source, look beneath the surface, gauge the true from the false, and walk straight towards that truth. I continue to use those skills to this day. 

Reflecting on your time at University – what are you most grateful for?  

When I reflect on my time at Leicester, I am most grateful for the values instilled in me along with the first-class education I received, not forgetting the lifelong friends that I formed! 

What was your proudest moment during your time at Leicester and what do you continue to be proud of when thinking about the University of Leicester?  

My proudest moment was when I finally understood and mastered a course called "The Use of English as a Literary Medium". At first, I did not even understand the title, but by the end of the course, I was able to do precisely what was intended— and that was my proudest moment. Overall, the experience taught me that I was capable of anything once I set my mind to it. An excellent teacher can inspire their students to heights they had not dreamed of; this has inspired all my career in teaching and education. 

What advice do you have for anyone who would like to enter a similar work role to you? 

For anyone that would like to follow a similar career path as myself, never forget what a profound influence a teacher or educator can have in shaping the character and career of the students in their care. My advice would be to work hard at what you are good at and enjoy doing; believe that you are capable of anything so long as you are prepared to give it your all; let these guide you to the career or profession you choose.

Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award Winner (2012) - Danielle Brown

Danielle was recognised by fellow alumni and awarded the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award for her achievements as an archer in both Paralympic and able bodied competition. Find out more about Danielle's achievements since graduating.

Back to top
MENU