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Celebrating our alumni community

Alumnae Katie Williams

From volunteering in war-torn countries, to producing world-class theatre to inspiring the next generation of scientists, our alumni community boasts some awe-inspiring personal and professional successes. Meet the winners of our 2016 Alumni Laureate Awards - and submit your nominations for our 2017 awards.

2016 Award winner - what Katie did next

It’s just a few short years since Katie Williams was trying to make her way up the hill to Hallward Library. But she was gasping for breath. She had to stop. And the library seemed just as far away.

“At the end of the first year of my law degree I was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive cancer. I had to defer a year to fight it,” said Katie.

“I got back to Nottingham a year later but I was tired and it was tough. I remember trying to walk up that hill. I just couldn’t manage it. But I dug deep, gritted my teeth, kept trying and over the next two years I worked harder probably than all of my peers in order to achieve less. But I did graduate in 2014.”

Hard work and determination

After leaving Nottingham, Katie gave up everything to travel the world. She became an education volunteer teaching English in refugee camps in the midst of one of the world’s worst refugee crises. It was a dangerous place to work and war was ever present, but she found the experience life changing. Now a consultant at British law firm Eversheds, working in their Iraq team, she’s continuing to make a difference.  

Katie is typical of the kind alumni who have given something back, achieved something in their chosen field or made an outstanding contribution to society, whether they graduated two years ago or 20 years ago. And her volunteering effort was recognised with a Recent Graduate Alumni Laureate Award this year.

“If you’d told me on that hill to Hallward that I’d be standing here now talking to an audience at graduation,” she told winter graduates,” I’d have laughed at you – in-between gasping for breath.

“So this is my advice. You don’t necessarily need that sparkling graduate job, you don’t need to have it all sorted out or have all the answers or a straight career path –you just need grit, hard work and to learn never to take no for an answer.”

Recognising inspirational alumni

Our Alumni Laureate Awards Winners from 2016

Katie was one of nine alumni who received Alumni Laureate Awards this winter – including lifetime achievement awards for author and theatrical producer John Miller (Politics, 1962) and former Chief Executive of the NSPCC Dame Mary Marsh (Geography, 1968); special excellence awards for lifelong exercise advocate Eddie Brocklesby (Economics/Maths, 1963), Formula One engineer James Key (Mechanical Engineering, 1996), designer Nick Munro (Mechanical Engineering, 1984) and road safety campaigner Cynthia Barlow (Social Administration, 1965); and recent graduate awards for science educator Marc Wileman (Physics, 2007) and international rugby union star Chris Wyles (Politics, 2006).

Meanwhile in China, Gary Chan (International Studies, 2010) who works at the British Consulate-General in Shanghai, was our University of Nottingham Ningbo Campus Alumni of the Year while international diplomat Sonia Sughayar (International Relations, 2010) won the award in Malaysia.

Nominations are open for 2017 awards

Those alumni recognised each year come from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities and their achievements are many and varied.

Nominations for our 2017 Alumni Laureate Awards are now open, so if you know a member of our alumni community who has achieved something remarkable and you think deserves recognition, get in touch. Simply tell us why you think they should receive one of our coveted awards and we'll do the rest.  


Alumni Relations

Portland Building
The University of Nottingham
University Park
Nottingham NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 823 2408
fax: +44 (0)115 951 3937