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

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. 

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