Amanda Ford

Amanda Ford | West College Scotland

I returned to education after having my children and gained my undergraduate degree in Computing before moving on to undertake my PhD focusing on Games based learning in particular investigating the use of constructing games as a method for children to learn in primary school, which is almost complete. I have always had an interest in technology and gaming with Super Mario being my first ever game that I completed and throughout the years have always had gaming consoles of one variety or another. Moving into studying computing was natural move as previously when working I had done a lot of I.T work and thought that it would be a good career move. I am a games lecturer in FE at present and teach a variety of subjects though have a keen interest in 3D modelling, Games Design and Virtual Reality. I enjoy using new technologies with my students where possible - for my 3D modelling class I use a mixed reality and virtual reality to show the students their own work in a new way.

Sumanjit Gill

Sumanjit Gill | UCL & NHS

I completed my training in general medicine, stroke and geriatrics in 2013 and have been working as a consultant in stroke medicine since then. I went to medical school at Barts and the London Medical School and did the majority of my training in North East London. I am also a committed educator and have recently been award an MA in Clinical Education from UCL. 3 years ago I took on the role of teaching fellow at UCL where I have designed and developed a Stroke Msc programme which is aimed at the multidisciplinary team. The majority of the students are from international backgrounds and it is my hope that they will be able to go on and have an impact on the stroke burden in countries in the developing world. I have also published a book of case studies, the proceeds of which I donate to a Sikh charity to help build schools in India. I have recently become an ambassador in the City Sikhs organisation which I hope to use as a vehicle to help young Sikhs into higher education. I am also a mentor with the Refugee Support Organisation mentoring unaccompanied children to the UK obtain qualifications in English and Maths.

Imani Shola Jeffers

Imani Shola | Student


My name is Imani, which means faith in Swahili, and my story is definitely one of faith: in myself, in others, and in the endlessly rewarding process of empowering those around me and giving back.

Academically, my career to date has been one punctuated with success, for which I am very grateful. I am a 21-year-old, third-year undergraduate at the University of Cambridge, currently on my Year Abroad in Paris interning at Deloitte in Finance. I am studying Modern and Medieval Languages (French and Spanish).

I was raised in a single-parent family home in North London, by my Mum, and am of Caribbean descent (and proud!). My Mum is my inspiration and role model.

After achieving 12A*s at GCSE in 2013, I was awarded Diane Abbott MP and House of Commons' London Schools and the Black Child Awards for my results. Those same results secured me a place at a top sixth form (The Henrietta Barnett School) in London.
I loved my time at Henrietta Barnett, and was determined to give back to the community, founding the Christian Union society at the school, and going on to secure 3A*s in my A-Levels and win a place at Cambridge. I was one of 23 black female students (one of 38 black students) accepted into the University in my year.

The University saw my potential, and after a rigorous interview process, awarded me their Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Scholarship so that I could study there despite coming from a less advantaged financial background. I went on to achieve a First Class in my first year, with a distinction in Spoken French—but the truly stellar experience for me that year was spending 2 months volunteering in Tanzania with fellow Cambridge students and Tanzanian students, to better the quality of education for secondary school students in Dar Es Salaam. Our initiatives made national news, and I made precious friends.

I also started a YouTube channel, in my first year, where to this day I give back and pass on my knowledge (this is my passion) to 9,000 loyal, 18-25-year-old subscribers, and on which I share with them how to ace their exams, get top grades, and succeed. I use my platform to empower people; to give academic and pastoral advice; to encourage a diverse range of students to apply to Cambridge—but also to share my love of singing and songwriting. My passion for diversity in high places won me the prestigious Miranda Brawn Diversity Leadership Scholarship in October 2016, and the Powerlist Foundation’s Future Leaders Award in September 2017.

In my second year, I was elected Welfare Officer for Cambridge University African Caribbean society and served on the executive committee. I saw that depression in my generation (millennials) is rife, and so—mental illness also being close to my heart because of my father—I wrote a book at age 20, while studying full-time, of self-care poetry and affirmations (‘Heart Shards and Lip Balm’) to help other young people manage and process their emotions. ‘Lip Balm’ became an Amazon Bestseller in January 2018, ranked 70 in US poetry. I was blessed to be interviewed on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour, by Business Insider, by the Enfield Independent, and by Pride Magazine as a result. The book has been bought in countries I’ve never been to before; readers span Africa, the States and even Australia, and the buzz I feel when they send me a selfie with their copy is indescribable!

Poignantly for me, I was able to go and give back to the very same school where I achieved my GCSEs; the school invited me to give a keynote speech to encourage the girls to excel in their studies. Dozens of students and staff (including my English Teachers, who inspired my love of writing, and gave nostalgic press interviews about my antics during English classes!) purchased copies of the book that day.

Now, I find myself, at age 21, balancing being a published author, a black female Cambridge student, a YouTube personality and a full-time intern in Paris. The 9-5 routine is new, exciting, dynamic - and mine boasts a hint of Parisian flair! Having won a place on the Lazard Spring internship in Financial Advisory in April 2017, I went onto secure an internship for my Year Abroad at Deloitte in Paris, which is where I am currently. What I love most about my job is sitting down with top executive bankers and Partners, often twice my age and undoubtedly far more knowledgeable than me, and walking them through the Past Perfect and Imperfect tense conjugations of the English of Language, so that they are empowered to do their financial expertise justice when conveying it in English to potential clients. I get to be a languages nerd, a mentor and an apprentice all at once!

To conclude: for me, the ultimate joy is giving back—be it to readers across the globe, schoolchildren in the UK or abroad, or subscribers around the world. It is empowering others—be they executive bankers who only speak French, or GCSE students trying to learn French—and helping them flourish. Success to me is nothing if I am not helping those around me to taste it, too. I hope my story has shown this.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Cathy Mitchell

Cathy Mitchell | Scottish Funding Council

Cathy Mitchell is a Senior Data/Policy Officer who works in further and higher education data at the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). Cathy believes that more advanced use of data and qualitative research is key to improving the student experience, and is motivated to deliver this in the Scottish sector. Cathy works directly with colleges and universities, the Scottish government and related agencies in pursuing these aims.

Cathy authors National and Official Statistics publications and has strengthened links between qualitative research in education and students in the sector by beginning an internship programme opportunity at SFC for undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Cathy has an LLB in Law and an MSc in both Criminology and in Social Research, all from the University of Edinburgh. Cathy is pursing further professional qualifications in Statistics, Data Science and Strategic Management.

Paige Morgan

Paige Morgan | Transport for London

When I was in year 10 I became a member of the Enfield Youth Parliament (EYP). Being a member of the EYP meant that I could attend official meetings with The Mayor Of Enfield, Metropolitan Police and the Director of The NHS. Attending these engagements helped me to be the voice of many young people in the area. Being apart of that committee was a honour and one of my greatest achievements. It also helped me to become the Head Girl of my school in year 11 which was a great experience as I was able to be the voice for my peers in my school.

Experiencing these life achievements helped me to prepare for my career.

When I was 15 years old I started my first job in a designer retail store. I then proceeded to work in Mothercare during my A-Level. I received A's and Distinctions* in all of my A-Level courses which enabled me to start my career in an accountancy firm studying Business and Admin with BBP university.

I now currently work for Transport For London as a degree apprentice studying Business Management at Pearson Business School.

Being a degree apprentice, means that I have to work full time and attend university one day a week. My tuition fees are paid for by Transport For London and I also receive a salary. This is a new scheme for Transport For London and I am one of the first apprentices to be selected, which is a privilege and honour. Being a degree apprentice is an amazing life achievement for me as I am able to work towards gaining a degree without any debt, whilst gaining experience in different working environments across the network.

Alongside these great achievements I also have my own business in photography. Running my own business whilst working and studying can be challenging sometimes but I enjoy every second of it as I enjoy overcoming challenges.

Sweta Raghavan

Sweta Raghavan | Scientists & Co

I was born and raised in Bangalore, India. After I finished my schooling, I decided to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in pure sciences, a decision that was strangely opposed by my teachers, guides and peers. I was told it would be an uphill battle to find a job or pursue a scientific career in India. Unfazed, I stuck with my decision but knew that I would need make an individual effort to train myself for research career without any support from my university. In a country where there is a constant dearth of opportunities, I knocked on many doors and spoke to countless people before I landed an internship at a diagnostic centre hidden at the back of a building in a nondescript street of Bangalore. I was ecstatic. To my teenage mind managing some simple pathology protocols felt as if I had officially become a scientist. It wasn’t long after that I joined Prof. Hittalmani’s group at the University of Agriculture in Bangalore to work on my first independent research project that involved validation a novel draught-resistant hybrid variety of rice using genetic markers. Following this experience I never wanted to look back. I relished the intellectual freedom and was empowered with the realisation that every discovery impacts life as we know it.

I moved to the United Kingdom in 2011 to purse a Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences Research, which I passed with a distinction. Following this, I was awarded a graduate studentship at King’s College London to pursue my doctoral study in molecular and cell biology, which I recently completed. The bulk of my study involved validating and characterising a novel protein-protein interaction in the lung epithelial layer that controlled epithelial cell adhesion and migration, both of which are crucial to maintaining homeostasis in the lungs. My work has paved way to study inflammatory response in the lung during cancer and asthma.

Alongside my doctoral study, I founded a non-profit social enterprise called Scientists & Co. in 2016. It was borne out of a sense of responsibility I felt towards the U.K. and its people. In other words, it was my way of humbly giving back to a society who funded my study and warmly embraced me. This enterprise aims to increase the social mobility of pupils from low socio-economic backgrounds in higher education. I designed a university boot camp styled work experience called Shadow A Scientist. It also offers a range of workshops to develop skills that helps pupils gain confidence tin themselves. To date, 98 pupils from white working class and BAME backgrounds have been offered one-to-one support through this programme. Nine out of ten of them are now enrolled in a university, 63 percent of whom have received offers from a Russell Group university. I also rolled out another programme called Science Without Borders in order to reach pupils in cold spots in the U.K. and abroad. This programme has reached over 300 students across 35 schools and entails conducting workshops and offering mentoring or career counselling at the schools.

I was also selected as the President of the Global Health Policy Centre at Europe’s largest student-led policy association, the King's Think Tank between 2016 and 2017. I had the herculean task of engaging policy-averse health students and developing innovative policy ideas. I recruited and lead a team of four to host high quality events, conceptualised innovative ways to engage healthcare workers and students, and mostly importantly, published the first ever collection of policy ideas and research in Global Health titled Breaking down Bureaucracy, Boundaries and Barriers in Health. From healthcare issues plaguing both developed and developing countries to laying the foundation for strengthening healthcare innovation in post-Brexit U.K, the publication covers topics that we have extensively lobbied to relevant decision makers. Also, for the first time at King's Think Tank, I lead a lobby-trip for heath students to the World Health Organisation at Geneva, where my white paper on Let’s Talk, Young People’s Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing in England was discussed at length.

Another hat I donned between 2015 and 2017 was as an elected student officer at the King's College London's Students' Union. I successfully lobbied for student rights, conceptualised and implemented a number of schemes and policies to improve student experience at King's. I established UK’s representative body for postgraduate research students to improve student life and achieve research excellence. This model is now being used by other Students’ Unions in the country. I created the popular Thesis Writing Up Spaces at King's College London, set up the King's Doctoral Students Association and led campaigns to increase pay for student-teachers, to provide more work stations for research students and championed for greater mental health awareness and support. My work was widely recognised by both the Union and the College and I was consequently appointed as the official Student Ambassador of King's Vision 2029 strategy.

Paige Thomas

Paige Thomas | Transport for London

My first official job was working at Marks and Spencer during my A-levels and what an eye opener this was for me! I was the youngest member of staff to be offered a permanent role within 3 months after joining as a Christmas temp and this really again highlighted my passion and drive. Following this I then broaden my understanding within the transport sector and worked for Norwegian Airlines during my summer, I cannot emphasise how much I loved this job and I think it primarily stems from my love and passion for aviation.

Once completing my A-levels I then started my first full time job with Transport for London as a General Manager Degree Apprentice. This role involves studying one day a week at University and working for four days. As stressful as this was in the beginning and I commonly refer to it as I was drowning! I thoroughly enjoined it and the adrenalin that comes with it!

I am helping others via external channels as I actively seek out to secondary schools, requesting to speak with pupils about apprenticeships and higher education. This has really helped me as an individual see the barriers that are present behind apprenticeships. Furthermore it helps pupils by instilling confidence within their decision about going to University or choosing an Apprenticeship by having someone to speak with. Furthermore I am actively seeking new ways to communicate to students about becoming a leader and overcoming harsh barriers through a YouTube channel which is still currently in progress.

Alongside all of this I also have my own cupcake business that I started at the age of 15 with my twin sister - so I guess you could say that I am a bit busy with everything but I think what's most important is that I am passionate about every bit of it.

Tina McDonald

Tina McDonald | Avalanche Coaching

During my 14 years as a Claims Manager I was introduced to Coaching and became fully qualified to support the companies vision of being a coaching culture. I was seconded over a 4 year period to run the intake training for the companies new trainees, each intake was approx 6 people and there was 2- 3 per year.

I have worked with graduates straight out of university and guided professional progression throughout my career to ensure my team members moved upwards in their careers and understood their opportunities. Providing learning opportunities and career advice and support to the team members who wanted to progress and performance management to those who were not performing in their roles so I could keep them my team and them not be lost.

After a car accident meant I was unable to return to work full-time in the role I was in, I decided to set up Avalanche Coaching and provide businesses with training in Leadership and soft skills and provide career advice, so I could continue what I enjoyed doing and ensure I was able to manage my health too. I have worked with students to help them see their abilities differently and find careers not just jobs and believe they have positive futures, regardless of the grades they get.

Saima Mehmood

Saima Mehmood | We Engage

I am a mother of three beautiful children.

I was born and raised in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

I have always been very passionate about raising awareness for women’s rights and especially for encouraging women from ethnic minority backgrounds to come forward play a positive role in within society.

I sincerely believe that educated women are indeed empowered women which is why we arrange community awareness events and take the issues which affect us all, to the hard to reach areas where we find the most vulnerable women often are.
We not only raise awareness but also work with service providers already out there to aid women to make educated decisions regarding issues affecting them but most importantly make them aware of the services available to them which ofcourse in return make them stronger confident and more independent women.

Susie Wolstenholme

Susie Wolstenholme | London South Bank University

I arrived at my current position by an unusual route having left school at sixteen with few academic qualifications. I worked as an Accounts Junior in a fabrication company and experienced a company going down. It was this company that gave me the opportunity to redeem my poor school performance and gave me day release to the college where I later taught. Discovering that I enjoyed learning if under my control I embarked on a full time degree in Business Information Technology, and in my third year took the opportunity to spend 15 months working in China. This gave me an exceptional opportunity to discover my potential at a young age and I ended the year as a successful manager where I lead, managed and trained a thriving team of Chinese staff in the front office of a large five star tourist hotel in Xian. On graduation I took a training job with a publicly funded private training company in the East End of London where alongside a team of four developed a set of NVQ programmes in IT for unemployed adults from ethnic minority backgrounds, with the long-term strategic aim of providing access and employability to a disadvantaged sector of the London community. On discovering I enjoying teaching and was good at it I then qualified to become a Lecturer in Further Education, where I conducted my second teaching practice at a School and University in Budapest, Hungary and on return became a Lecturer in an FE College. Since that time I have worked in two FE Colleges teaching FE and HE where I developed and managed a series of GNVQ / degrees courses and worked with employers to develop their NVQ provision. In my current role as a Senior Lecturer in MIS I wear a number of hats which include my role as Course Director across a number of UG and PG programmes in Business and Management, Dissertation Co-ordinator, Placement Lead, Erasmus and Study Abroad Co-ordinator and organiser of a series of extra-curricular activities across the School to ensure that our students are graduate career ready, with a breadth of experience and can compete against students from traditional universities.