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Volunteering news


Spring 2020

Emily Seto Large

When volunteering takes you out of this world

NASA Planetary Protection Engineer and recent alumna Emily Seto (Clinical Microbiology, 2016) is so incredibly passionate about microbiology that she has been recognised as the University’s Alumni Volunteer of the Year for her work as a student recruitment ambassador and careers speaker – just one of many of alumni and supporters celebrated with awards at our 2019 reception.

“As a mentor it's been great just talking to students, having them ask me questions about what they're interested in doing and maybe I'll be able to help them evolve it into something. We run internships on campus here at NASA too, hosting 1,000 - 2,000 students every summer and it would be great if some Nottingham students end up here.”

Find out more about Emily's journey from Nottingham to NASA (and back again!).

NHY 715X335

Autumn 2019


The transformative power of education

More students from disadvantaged backgrounds are entering higher education – 1,652 students from a widening participation background joined the University in 2018 – and following in the footsteps of alumni like Natalie Haydon-Yeung (Law, 2012), who overcame adversity to become a successful family law solicitor. 

Role models like Natalie are significant to support students from disadvantaged backgrounds to navigate the unfamiliar environments of higher education and the careers to which they aspire. Alongside her professional career, Natalie volunteers for the University, mentoring students, sharing her experience at career events and hosting work placement students interested in a legal career. Natalie was also the recipient of the 2018 University of Nottingham Volunteer of the Year award for her efforts as a widening participation volunteer. 

Find out more about Natalie in the latest edition of Connect Online. 

BME Careers Events banner

Career Success - The BME Experience 

Across October 2019 the University celebrated Black History Month with a series of film screenings, panel discussions and much more. On 17 October several Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) alumni joined students and staff to discuss the variety of personal and professional challenges they've faced so far, including Michael Olatokun (Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law), Charlotte Williams (SevenSix Agency), Lubna Essa (Google) and Obianuju Amamgbo (Department for Work and Pensions). 

Michael Olatokun leads senior law academics in piloting, testing and applying methods for assessing quality in higher education programmes. Michael spoke of his experiences and the exact moment that helped form his path towards exploring the connection between rights, citizenship and education:

"There was this student in my class, and he said that black people don't earn as much money because they don't work as hard. In that moment, I knew I had to challenge ignorance - Michael Olatokun 

Find out more about the University's programme of Black History Month 2019 events here


The Winners

Meet the 2019 Volunteer Award winners!

The University of Nottingham has recognised the outstanding voluntary efforts of a number of alumni and residents at its annual Supporter Reception this week. From increasing awareness of the positive impact sport can have on student mental health, to raising thousands of pounds for the University’s Children’s Brain Tumour Research Centre, volunteers are at the heart of the University’s student experience and research initiatives.

Over 800 alumni and community volunteers contributed time over the last academic year, with 27 different individuals or groups recognised in the Volunteer Awards which were introduced by the University Vice-Chancellor Shearer West.

Read the press release, or to find out more about this year's winners please visit the awards webpage here

Dementia Choir

Summer 2019


Our Dementia Choir airs on BBC

In May Our Dementia Choir with BAFTA-award winning actress Vicky McClure aired on BBC One. Over the course of three months, the Line of Duty actress joined forces with staff and volunteers at the University of Nottingham and the UK’s leading scientists as she discovered the physical and emotional effects of music on the brain while meeting people with dementia and their families as she created a choir of people living with the condition. 

While the broadcast has raised public awareness of the benefits of singing for people with dementia, there are still waiting lists for many existing singing groups. However a new research study based at the University’s Institute of Mental Health will provide free singing in Nottingham for several months for people with a recent diagnosis of dementia. Read the full story here.

Update (September 2019): 

In September we formally recognised the incredible contribution of our dementia choir volunteers by awarding them a Community Group of the Year Volunteer Award. The award will be presented to the group in the autumn. 

Get involved: If you're interested in supporting the delivery of the choir please contact us. 


PhD arts alumni show students an alternative path to academic careers

In May we were joined by PhD arts alumni for our annual Beyond Academia careers event. Dr Keith Bound (CEO, Receptive Cinema) and Dr Lauren Selfe (Research Compliance Officer, University of Sheffield) joined other alumni volunteers to speek to PGR students about their unique career paths post-PhD. 

Find out more about their journeys, and hear about their top tips for anyone taking an unconventional career path, via our video interviews below: 

Visit our current opportunities page to discover some of the ways you can give your time. 
Celebrating our incredible volunteers

Nominations now open for the 2019 Volunteer Awards !

Our annual Volunteer Awards celebrate extraordinary individuals who give their time to improve the student experience, transform our local communities and make a positive difference to our world. Staff and students can now recognise alumni and non-alumni volunteers by nominating them for awards via out four award categories. Nominations close Monday 19 August. Visit the awards page for more information.

Our alumni are inspiring more women into STEM sectors

Spring 2019


The STEM superheores inspiring women in engineering 

March saw the culmination of a five-week programme pairing female engineering graduates with current students at both the University and the Nottingham University Academy of Science and Technology (NUAST). The Inspiring Women in Engineering programme is designed to inspire more women into STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics) careers. Find out more about this important project in our latest alumni enewsletter. 



Students and alumni Get Connected

In February, the Students' Union ran their annual Get Connected event, a speed-networking opportunity which enables student leaders to meet alumni and employers from a range of sectors. This year around 100 students were able to ask alumni volunteers about their respective careers and grill employers about career opportunities open to them after university. For more information about this event please contact Hayley Gillmore, Students' Union Employability Development Manager.
James Key

Winter 2018


Formula One Technical Director shares expertise with staff and students

In December, McLaren Technical Director James Key (Mechanical Engineering, 1996) launched the University's Vision for Technical Talent strategy designed to ensure increased profile, recognition and opportunity for technical colleagues. James has spent his working life developing innovative technical solutions for a number of Formula One teams including Lotus, Jordan, Sauber, Force India and Scuderia Toro Rosso. James gave a fascinating talk on the roles of technicians in motor sport and higher education and drew on personal experiences to convey the impact of technical skills and expertise. James also met with students from the Faculty of Engineering Formula Student Team to share his advice and insights. Keep in touch with progress on the new Vision for Technical Talent strategy from the University  here.

2018 Family Link hosts meeting their students on campus



Local volunteers give a warm welcome to our international students

In November over 80 local residents and University staff took part in the launch of this year’s Family Link scheme. The scheme pairs local volunteers with over 200 international students to help them transition to life in the UK. Family Link hosts arrange fun cultural activities for their students over the course of the academic year. It’s a great opportunity for students to experience everything Nottingham has to offer and to exchange traditional foods, music and other cultural practices with their new local friends. For the hosts, it’s a chance to see the city they love through a fresh set of eyes. 

The Value of International Students

It’s also vital to acknowledge the  financial impact  international students have on the UK economy. Each year, the University of Nottingham's 9,000 international students generate £130 million for the economy, over 2000 local jobs and a further £2 million in spending with visits from friends and family. They go back to their home countries, take up leadership positions and retain an affection for the UK which leads to business, political and cultural partnerships in all professional spheres. It clearly benefits the whole community to ensure international students feel welcome and spread a positive message about studying at Nottingham to the wider world - they are some of our most influential advocates.

The Family Link scheme runs across the academic year. If you would like to get involved, or hear about our other volunteering projects, please visit our  opportunities page.

Making new international friends through family link
Moving from Hong Kong was daunting for me. Family Link enables me to make new friends and discover all of Nottingham's best sights!
Grace - Postgraduate Psychology student
slave trade legacies group receive award

Slave Trade Legacies Group presented with University Volunteer Award

Last month the University of Nottingham recognised the outstanding voluntary efforts of a number of alumni and residents at its annual Supporter Reception. The  Nottingham Slave Trade Legacies group (NSTL) won this year's Group Volunteer Award which was presented to the group at a recent screening of their latest poem-based film, Blood Sugar, at Broadway Cinema in November 2018. The film explores the fundamental importance of the work of enslaved African people in the creation and survival of Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire. Find out more about our latest Volunteer Award winners here. 

Blood Sugar 

The NSTL's latest poetry film, Blood Sugar, explores the impact of the slave trade on Newstead Abbey in Nottinghamshire. Lord Byron sold the Abbey in the early 1800s to Thomas Wildman, who used his wealth gained from Jamaican sugar plantations to restore the property to its current glory.

Other films co-produced by the group include   Global Cotton Connections: Untangling the Threads of Slavery and  The Colour of Money.

Autumn 2018 News: Click to expand

The award winners 2018

Autumn 2018


The University of Nottingham honours inspirational local volunteers 

In October 2018 the University recognised the outstanding voluntary efforts of a number of local alumni and residents at its annual Supporter Reception. From increasing awareness about the impacts of slavery at local heritage sites to raising thousands of pounds for the University’s breast cancer research programme, the activities the volunteers support are wide-ranging.

Over 600 alumni and community volunteers contributed time over the last academic year, with 19 different individuals or groups recognised in the volunteer awards - including seven from Nottingham - which were introduced by Vice Chancellor Shearer West.  Find out more about all this year's winners.


BME alumni are helping to close the attainment gap

Alumni volunteers helping to close the attainment gap

We recently had the privilege of hosting alumni from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds, who shared their experiences since graduating and entering the world of work. This took place as part of the University’s new initiative to address the attainment gap in degree performance between BME students and white students, which we highlighted earlier this year.

Career Success:The BME Experience was held in October 2018 and saw over 60 staff and students participate, with the students in particular being given the opportunity to learn from the alumni and discuss personal issues they have faced. The University has also taken further strides in its ambition to secure  Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) for everyone in the staff and student community by appointing a new Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Sarah Sharples is responsible for helping shape our EDI strategy, and ensure that best practice is shared with everyone.

We are looking for more volunteers from BME groups, LGBTQ or who are disabled to help us develop our support for students and staff at the University of Nottingham. If you are interested in helping us please  email Rachael Green, Head of Volunteering.

Alumni Relations

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