Bristol SU Awards 2019

By Professor Sarah Purdy, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience).

The last week of term was an exciting mix of celebrations and events, but the real highlight for me was being a guest at the Bristol SU Awards on Thursday 13 June. The SU awards recognise individuals or groups who have done a brilliant job in areas as diverse as student leadership, sustainability, being a fantastic staff member, or an exceptional club or society. Nominations come from students, SU and university staff, so the Awards really reflect the SU-university partnership.

The event itself was incredible. The Anson Rooms were transformed from a functional event space into a glamorous and atmospheric venue with great food and fantastic live entertainment from Jazz Funk Soul, Hindu Soc (who later won Society of the Year), UkeSoc, plus an amazingly energetic Salsa performance. But, of course, it was the nominees and award winners that stole the show. The incredible enthusiasm shown by the audience for the winners was infectious. I can’t do justice to all the awards but will give you a brief picture, so you get the idea. The full list of nominees is on the SU website.

The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Hugh Brady, presented the student leader award to Amy-Leigh Hatton for her work as president of Student Action for Refugees. This was followed by a sustainability award for Maddie Kunkler for her leadership of the RAG, Volunteering and Sustainability Network and a volunteering award recognising Shivali Sharma’s work with Nightline. The Bristol Student Staff Solidarity Group won the Campaigns Award and the BME Network the Equality and Diversity Award.

It is inspirational to learn more about the contribution students make to the lives of their fellow students and the wider university. The winner of the Education Award, Sally Emerson has been Faculty of Science UG Rep and Chair of the Education Network during 2018-19 and Ed Southgate and Cameron Scheijde have edited Epigram, earning them the Student Media Award. Of course, staff too were recognised including Robiu Salisu with the University Staff Member Award for his work as BAME Student Inclusion Officer and Monica Pacek from the SU for her contribution to student engagement. Finally, the collaboration award went to the amazing East meets West initiative and the sports club of the year award to Women’s Football.

The event was hosted by the outgoing Sabbatical Officer team and their fellow student leaders – with Oscar ceremony levels of glamour but better speeches. Thank so much to the SU for hosting the event and inviting me to attend – and a huge well done to all the winners and nominees.

Bristol Mentors: celebrating a successful first year

By Professor Judith Squires, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost

On Friday 7 June I attended the Bristol Mentors end-of-year thank-you event at Colston Hall to celebrate the achievements and work of our mentors and mentees on the scheme. It seems like no time at all since the programme launched in the Richmond Building back in October 2018, but between now and then a significant amount of time and energy has been invested in the scheme.

Some headline stats for the work that has been undertaken are:

  • Over 100 applications were submitted for the pilot scheme, and 56 student mentees accepted onto the cohort.
  • Over 300 hours of time have been given up by mentors this year.
  • The majority of the cohort has been able to arrange invaluable shadowing, work experience and networking opportunities, helping to equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the future.

For those of you who are not aware, the Bristol Mentors programme emerged partly from the desire of alumni to give back, and partly because students wanted to learn from graduates who had been there before them. The programme is funded via the University’s Access Agreement and works alongside the Widening Participation and Student Inclusion Team to ensure that students who need support hear about Bristol Mentors. All of our student mentees are from under-represented groups and many have already overcome a level of disadvantage to earn a place to study here.

Law student Tien Tonnu with her mentor Sam Rose

Bristol Mentors has quickly become a crucial new addition to the range of activities that we at the University of Bristol offer to help all students become more employable, with mentors also enabling students to broaden their professional networks. A testament to this is Tien Tonnu, pictured here with her mentor, Sam Rose (Mentor of the Year winner), who gained a spot on a very competitive vacation scheme at a Magic Circle law firm. Tien credits her success in winning a place to the support she received from Sam over the year.

The scheme is a great example of us working as a community – bringing our students and alumni together for mutual benefit. It is also a good example of cross-department collaboration between the Careers team and Development and Alumni Relations. The support of alumni and their voice is hugely important to the University, and this project demonstrates the value of alumni to current students, who describe the scheme in very positive terms:

  • “A fantastic practical insight”;
  • “The provision has been second to none”;
  • “I’m feeling excited and a lot less scared about my future”;
  • “Taking part [in Bristol Mentors] has been key to my success”;
  • “I’ve been truly inspired”.

We sincerely hope that some of these students, too, will become Bristol Mentors in the future. After this year’s successful pilot with 56 mentees, we are currently recruiting mentors for the 100 students enrolled in the programme for next year. If you know of any alumni who would like to become mentors, please contact alumni-mentoring@bristol.ac.uk or click on the Bristol Mentors link for further information.

Finally, none of this would have been possible without the hard work of the students taking part in this programme or the involvement of the alumni, so thank you to everyone involved, with a special thanks to the evening’s organisers: Doug Middling, Alumni Engagement Officer (Widening Participation) and Robbie Fox, Alumni Mentoring Coordinator (Careers).

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