About the awards

The Alumni Achievement Awards allows us to celebrate and recognise the many and diverse achievements of our growing and vibrant alumni community – locally, nationally and across the world.

Former students of the University are engaged in many activities that we should recognise. Some are making a difference in their communities, while others may be creating successful businesses, or have achieved success in the arts or by helping charities. Others may be contributing directly to the life and reputation of the University itself. The Alumni Engagement team feel it is important to celebrate these achievements.

The values of the University of East London can last a lifetime – and evidence for this was on show at the inaugural Alumni Achievements Awards which celebrated the accomplishments of eight category winners and nominees. The awards recognise the alumni who have distinguished themselves for their excellent and sustained contributions and achievements in their chosen field over their professional lifetime.

2021 winners

The Alumni Advisory Board Change Maker awards 


This award recognises 6 alumni, 1 alumnus from each of our 6 schools. The award recognises alumni who for example have, introduced a new or ground-breaking concept to their field, those who have founded or joined a company and gone on to make a significant impact at a global level, as well as those who can demonstrate innovation and creativity and the ability to deliver lasting results. The winners will be featured in the Change Maker brochure, as well as being showcased on our Change Maker wall of fame and invited to the Change Maker dinner following the awards. The winners of this award are selected by our Alumni Advisory Board. 
Lucy Quist graduated from our BEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree in 1999 and is now a managing director at Morgan Stanley and author of the book The Bold New Normal. 
She said, "I just want to say that it’s not always about where you've come from it's about where you can go. Sometimes we are boxed in by saying 'oh look how far you have come, you done so well'. But we need to think about how much further we can go because sometimes there’' a lot more inside of us that we realise."
Danielle Jawando graduated from the BA Creative and Professional Writing degree in 2009 and MA in Imaginative Practice degree in 2012. Since then she has worked on Coronation Street and her debut novel And The Stars Were Burning Brightly has won a number of awards. 
She said, "Studying at UEL was a truly life changing experience for me. It was where I found my passion and my place in the world. It’s the people that make UEL and I’m truly thankful to have been taught by three of the best."
Talal Rafi graduated from the BA Business Management degree in 2013 and is now a leading expert on entrepreneurship, reduced inequalities and gender equality in Sri Lanka and a World Bank climate ambassador. He was unable to attend the awards. 
Nicole Posho Bellow graduated with a BSc in Early Childhood Studies in 2016. Since then she has launched Sphere Support which helps women and girls who have been victims of domestic abuse enhance their skills and build new lives. 
She said, "Thank you so much for this great opportunity. I didn’t think I would win this award because there’s a lot of people who are achieving a lot. Being a student at the University of East London was amazing and I would thank everyone who helped me to get to this place."
Dr Vasiliki E Kalodimou graduated from the BSc Human Physiology degree course in 1999 and has since been engaged in research into the regenerative properties of stem cells in Greece and author of two patents. 
She said, "Winning this award would not be possible without receiving the inspiration I received from my tutors and from whom I have derived the strength to challenge myself to perform better. I would like to tell students you should never give up. Even if you are convinced it is over, it’s not unless you want it to be and the example of that is me, standing in front of you."
Dwayne Fields graduated from the BA Psychology, International Development with Career and Business Management degree in 2014. He has thrown himself into many physical challenges, including becoming the first Black Briton to walk over 400 miles to the magnetic North Pole. His work with disadvantage young people has been acknowledged by the Queen and earned him the Freedom of the City of London. 
He said, "I've been fortunate enough that I've been able to see through some of the challenges I faced and come out the other side slightly better off. My plan is to keep doing that for many people, especially young people, as I can going forward and that's why I spend as much time outside as I can. UEL just keeps giving and so thank you. It's such an honour."
 

Alumni Lifetime Achievement award 

This award recognises the alumni who have distinguished themselves for their excellent and sustained contributions and achievements in their chosen field over their professional lifetime. 


Winner: NAHIM AHMED MBE- BA Youth and Community work, 2012
Nahim Ahmed MBE, has been working the London Borough of Tower Hamlets for over a decade helping to bring about positive sustainable change. In June 2021, Nahim was recognised in the Queen’' Birthday Honours list and awarded MBE.  

Nahim Ahmed

Rising Star of the Year  

This award recognises alumni, under 30 years of age, who have distinguished themselves professionally since graduating from UEL, and are likely to inspire the next generation of alumni.


Winner: Cameron William Brogan-Higgins, BA Creative Musicianship, 2020
Cameron William Brogan-Higgins, who, at 24, is growing his music career through videos, promotions, radio air play and Spotify where he has reached 50K listeners. He has shot a music video in the deserts of UAE and worked with sound engineers from across the globe. 
 

Cameron

Entrepreneur of the Year 

This award recognises alumni who have made a transformative contribution to the local, national or international community through an enterprising business venture. 


Winner: Abdal Ahmed, BSc Sports Science, 2004
Abdal Ahmed, director of The Ottoman Doner Ltd, a fast food operation that now has six stores across London selling popular kebabs and supporting food distribution across London to families in need and the homeless. 

Abdal Ahmed

Alumni Engagement award 

This award recognises alumni who have engaged with/ volunteered for the University and made a significant contribution to the University through activities including but not limited to: Talks, Mentoring, International Ambassadors, UEL Connect Ambassadors. 

Winner: Jacqui Bashford, BSc Business Management, 2011
Jacqui Bashford, chair of the Alumni Advisory Board, who has been supporting students through mentoring programmes and inspirational talks about her own successful career in the telecommunications industry.  

Jacqui Bashford

Diversity award 

This award recognises alumni who champion diversity and inclusion by leading and initiating breaking barriers within their working lives.  

Winner: Micha Nestor, BA History, 2012
Micha Nestor, who founded Past Futures, which is focused on raising the inclusion of diverse people within the heritage and arts sector. 

Micha Nestor

Mental Wealth Advocacy award  

This award recognises alumni who have embedded the importance of Mental Wealth into their working lives. 

Winner: Ruth Cooper-Dickson, MSc Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology, 2020

Ruth Cooper-Dickson, who founded Champs for Change which supports survivors of domestic abuse and marginalised people who have experienced trauma and adversity. 

Ruth-Cooper-Dickson

East London Glocal Engagement award 


This award recognises alumni who have made a valuable contribution to the local community. Recognising those who have made an exceptional contribution and commitment to creating positive change which improves the life of others within east London. 

Winner: Viola E Okoro, MBA Leadership, 2013
Viola E Okoro, founder and executive director of Leaders Foundation for African Girl, Child and Women.  

Viola Okora

Industry 4.0 award 


This award recognises alumni who are leading the way regards to Industry 4.0.

Winner: Constantin Singureanu, MSc Data Science, 2018
Constantin, Singureanu, who founded Puffer, a garlanded digital marketing agency working in the field of financial services, law, wealth management and accountancy.  

Constantin-Singureanu

Alumni Sporting Success award 


This award recognised alumni who have distinguished themselves through the field of sport, either as part of a team, individually or in a supporting role. 

Joint Winners: Hani Assi, MSc Strength & Conditioning, 2012 and Julian Dominique, MSc Strength & Conditioning, 2012
Hani Assi, a high performance strength and conditioning coach and consultant; and Julian Dominique, owner and director FAR Fitness, a health and wellbeing company specialising in functional fitness training and exercise rehabilitation. 

HANI-ASSI
Julian Dominique

Sustainability award 


This award recognises alumni who have made a significant contribution in the area of sustainability for example, by creating an energy efficient business, playing the part in reducing carbon footprints at a national level, or leading in the field of renewable energy. 

Joint winners: Cassie Quinn, BA Fashion Textiles, 2019 and Temitayo Sodunke, MSc Public Health, 2019 
Cassie Quinn, founder of CQ Studio which combines science, craft and fashion and pursues research into regenerative fabrics; and Temitayo Sodunke, who champions sustainable goals in education, inequality and health in Nigeria. 
 

Cassie Quinn
Temitayo Sodunke

Careers-Led award 


This award recognises alumni who have are supporting the university in their goal of becoming London leading careers-led university. 

Winner: Matthew O’Mullane, PGDip Counselling and Psychotherapy, 2020

Matthew O’Mullane, who created his own psychotherapy practice, A New Hope Therapy, based on the robust training and development he gained at the University of East London. 
 

Matthew-OMullane

2020 winners

Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award

This award recognises the alumni who have distinguished themselves for their excellent and sustained contributions and achievements in their chosen field over their professional lifetime. 

Winner: Imran Khan QC, Law, 1987

"Our winners' firm, founded in 2000 is described by the Chambers and Partners Directory as a 'highly regarded serious crime practice that acts for legal aid and privately funded clients on highly complex cases.' In 2018, he was appointed a Queens Counsel. Not only has our winner tonight had a distinguished law career but he has also been the patron of UEL's Legal Advice Centre, since 2013 which is a learning facility for students in our Royal Docks School of Business and Law.”

The Rising Star of the Year Award

This award recognises the alumni, aged 30 or under, who have distinguished themselves professionally since graduating from the University of East London and are likely to inspire the next generation of alumni.

 

Winner: Akesha Reid, BA English Literature with Creative and Professional Writing, 2013
“Our winner has been working in hair and beauty journalism since graduating from UEL and most recently she was the Digital Editor for Hairdressers Journal International, the leading trade title for Hairdressers in the UK and now works freelance across trade and consumer media with by-lines on sites like Refinery29 and Cosmopolitan, as well as consulting with salons and brands on their social media strategies. Straight after completing her degree she took on the role of Editorial assistant at a national magazine, and just two years after working in this role she was given the opportunity to take on the role of Editor, meaning she was an Editor of a National Magazine at just 22.

 

Winner: Abbie Nicholls, BA (Hons) Drama, Applied Theatre & Performance, 2017
“Our winner opened her first performing arts school in Chelmsford, Essex with Jigsaw Performing Arts in 2018, and will be opening a second franchise soon. She continues to work as a drama practitioner alongside running her own business and also works with a company who offer performing arts education for young people with additional needs. She also takes part in community projects, which deliver performing arts workshops to adults with learning disabilities, choreographing for their annual shows.”

The Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Award

This award recognises the alumni or group of alumni who have made a transformative contribution to the local, national or international community through an enterprising business venture.   

Winner: Adriane Bet, Sport, 2013

“After graduating our winner founded 'Muddy Boots Kids Clubs', which runs high quality OFSTED registered holiday camps for children aged two to eight years old. Muddy Boots was founded after our winner realised that children were being given fewer and fewer opportunities to be outdoors, with the knowledge she learnt during her time at the University paired with her extensive history of working as sports coach for different schools she made a change to the world of Kids Camps.

Alumni Engagement Award

This award recognises the alumni or group of alumni who have engaged with or volunteered for the University and made a significant contribution to the University through activities including.

Winner: Abdal Ahmed, BSc Sports Science, 2004

“This winner has managed sports competitions in the borough and has worked to deliver over 70 competitions for schools in Tower Hamlets, has overseen the ground-breaking interfaith games in the south of England for the Association of Muslim Schools, provided free community coaching to deprived youngsters who struggle to access sports and recreational opportunities. He is a Race Equality Board member for the London FA and is also on the Grassroots Forum for Kick It Out as well as being on the London Football Association disciplinary panel.”

Alumni Diversity Award

This award is for the alumni or group of alumni who champion diversity and inclusion by leading on or overcoming barriers within their working lives.

Winner: Samantha Uwadiae, MSc in Positive Pyschology and Coaching Psychology, 2018

“Alongside her full-time job and Masters, she led on the implementation of St Mungo's Positive Action Strategy. Due to her work, St Mungo's saw a nine per cent increase of BAME staff at senior levels. In addition, two Trustees from BAME backgrounds were recruited and a year later, a CEO. She facilitated training to over 300 volunteers and presented ground-breaking workshops to the workforce such as The Myth of the Angry Black Woman and Breaking the LGBT+ Stigma in BAME Communities."

Mental Wealth Advocacy Award

This award is for the alumni or group of alumni who have embedded or have been an advocate for the importance of Mental Wealth in their working lives.

Winner: Rhyana Ebanks-Babb, Clinical and Community Psychology, 2017

“The winner of this award is being recognised for the development of The Power of 7, a self-care guide. The guide was launched for Mental Health Awareness Week which covered kindness as the theme and our winner this evening describes the guide as her way to help others who have been struggling with their mental and emotional wellbeing by offering simple and effective resources.” 

Industry 4.0

This award highlights an alumni or group of alumni who are pioneering in their approach for activities that embrace the next industrial revolution: Industry 4.0.

Winner: Constantin Singureanu, MSc Data Science, 2019

“Since graduating our winner has gone on to found Pufferr, a hub for digital growth and innovation leveraging several trends defining the digital marketing landscape: automation, outsourcing, partnerships and cloud computing. They have won a variety of awards, not only for themselves but also for their clients: Including two 2019 UK Business Awards, Four Drum Agency Awards.”

The East London Glocal Engagement Award

This award recognises the alumni or group of alumni who have made a valuable contribution to the local community.

Winner: Victory Oyakhilome, MSc Public Health, 2019

“Our winner tonight is the founder and CEO of the Girls in Charge Foundation. Our winner is creating a world where girls can have the chance to speak out. The foundation has made a tremendous impact since it was set up; working with over 10,000 girls through various programmes in five African countries, and also in the United Kingdom.”

 

Winner: Darnell Shakespeare, BA (Hones) Drama, Applied Theatre & Performance, 2015

“Our winner is a hugely inspiring community performing arts practitioner, director and producer in east London. In 2019, he took on the role of co-head for the young people's team at the Theatre Royal Stratford East and most recently in 2020 he was invited to teach as a guest practitioner for the applied theatre degree at the University of East London.”

2019 winners

Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award

Martine Wright, BSc Psychosocial studies and communication studies, 1996 

“Whilst playing sport, our winner wears her lucky number 7 with pride, transforming what happened into a positive and a clear and meaningful sign of her rehabilitation, and in memory of those who lost their lives.”

“She is currently busy sharing her journey from despair to determination to succeed through her motivational talks and has spoken to audiences of more than 10,000 at Wembley Arena and The O2 and is living testament to how catastrophic life changes can have positive outcomes.”

The Rising Star of the Year Award

Winner: Reece Parkinson, BA Media Communications, 2015
“Our winner honed his presenting skills at youth station Reprezent and through covering various daytime 1Xtra shows, before moving onto to be the host of the 1Xtra Talks show. All by the age of 23. Now at just 25 he has also recently taken on the role of co-host on the BBC’s new football show MOTDx and presented his first show on BBC Radio 1.”

The Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Winner: Charlie Blair, BA Dance: Urban Practice, 2017

“Our winner this evening graduated from the Dance: Urban Practice course in 2017 and earlier this year won the University’s prestigious E-Factor entrepreneur competition, where she received £6,000 to help get her business the Blair Academy up and running. The Blair Academy is for adults and children in the UK facing social isolation and loneliness.”

Alumni Engagement Award

Winner: Alumni Advisory Board

(Chair Joan Saunders-Reece, Vice-Chair Jacqueline Malcolm and subcommittee leads, Jaasir Ali, Jacqui Bashford and Vadi Loango)

“From regular board meetings to welcoming new students as part of our convocation ceremonies; from taking part in mentoring and networking events and attending our graduation ceremonies, this diverse, knowledgeable and committed group always go above and beyond.”

Alumni Diversity Award

Winner: Laura Iosifescu, BA Fine Art, 2012

“Our winner has recently created the Society of Gold Minds for artists and entrepreneurs from all races and backgrounds which aims to break down barriers between artist and audience to foster a collaborative community in Barking and beyond. Our winner understands the importance and value of a diversity and aims to use this to make the world a better place through art.”

Mental Wealth Advocacy Award

Winner: Darren Wiafe-Morson, BSc Sports Therapy, 2018

“Having recently secured his second client Sports Interactive, our winner’s sports therapy company is going from strength to strength, and his work is promoting and embedding the importance of Mental Wealth within the workplace.”

Industry 4.0

Winner: Tracy Goodluck-Constance, BSc Computer Science, 2017, MSc Computer Science, 2018

“Our winner took on the post of Research Assistant working on an Innovate UK funded project. The aim of the project is to develop breakthrough software that will combine AI and speech recognition technology to detect and interpret emotion and linguistics to assess the credibility of insurance claims.”

The East London Glocal Engagement Award

Winner: Abdal Ahmed (pictured), BSC Sports Development, 2004

“Our winner this evening is dedicated to delivering curriculum support in east London schools; has served as a variety of roles including an educator, sports teacher, coach and mentor; and over the last six years he has managed over 70 sporting competitions for primary and secondary school children in Tower Hamlets.”

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