Be Fabulous!

Work hard, follow your passion and “be fabulous – just like me” was the advice given to University of Brighton graduates.

Photograph by Simon Dack

Alison Lapper MBE, artist and author, was keynote speaker on 31 July, the first day of the University’s summer graduation ceremonies at the Brighton Centre.

Born without arms and with shortened legs, a condition called phocomelia, Alison is a full member of Foot Painting Artists of the World.

She graduated with a first class degree in Fine Art from the University of Brighton in 1993 and in 2014 she was further honoured with a Doctor of Arts from the University in recognition of her major contribution to the arts and as an ambassador for people with disabilities.

Alison told graduates: “This is a really special day and I hope you’ll cherish it as much I still do mine all these years later.

“You will all be going onto your new careers – enjoy it, make the most of it, don’t let anybody talk you out of what you want to do. If you’ve got a goal, go for it and enjoy it – this is really just the beginning.”

Alison advised graduates to work hard and said: “If you follow your passion as I have done I hope you will get to where you want to be.

“Congratulations to all of you. This is a new beginning for you and I hope you have an amazing career, time, whatever you do with your life.

“And one thing to remember – be fabulous, just like me!”

Welcome Britney!

A video welcoming Britney Spears to Brighton and Hove Pride has been produced with dancers led by a University of Brighton graduate.

The U.S. superstar will be headlining the main stage at Pride on August 4, performing her complete Las Vegas show Piece of me.

Brighton-based 201 Dance Company, who launch a nationwide tour of their acclaimed show SKIN in Brighton in September, and choreographer Andrea Walker assembled the city’s best talent to create a dance video to the 2007 track Gimme More! as a welcome to Britney.

Included were dancers from Brighton’s Streetfunk school run by JP Omari, the multi-award-winning Hip Hop dancer and choreographer who graduated with a BA(Hons) in International Business with French in 2003.

He said: “It was fantastic to be involved in such a great project. I run Brighton’s most successful streetdance school and it was a brilliant opportunity for my dancers.

“To be able to help and facilitate Andrea Walker in his dream to create a ‘welcome to Brighton’ video for Britney was an absolute pleasure. I have been a Britney fan right from the beginning and have seen her in concert three times.

“It is exciting to have her in our beautiful city. My business partner Annelies and I were happy for Andrea to rehearse at our Marina Studios and we shared the information with our dancers to be part of this exciting project.

“Andrea really captured the beauty of our city as well as the world-class

dancers of all ages we have.

“I hope he gets to meet Britney – I’d love to meet her too!”

JP credited the University: “It made me who I am and my course has been integral to me as a successful entrepreneur.”

To watch the Britney dance video, go to:

Lighting up London

A University of Brighton graduate has been lighting up London’s most iconic buildings with political slogans.

Jack Mills, who graduated with BA(Hons) in Humanities and is now Print Features Editor on the magazine Dazed and Confused, teamed up with New York activist group The Illuminator who travel the world projecting messages onto high-visibility buildings.

Jack, 31, said: “For our project #AddressTheNation we took issues that matter most to our readers and projected them into the skyline of London – specifically, onto the Houses of Parliament, the Ministry of Justice, The Royal Courts of Justice, and Nelson’s Column. Across nine projections, we addressed top topics including Brexit, Donald Trump’s visit, the NHS and the abuse of trans people at London Pride.

“It was a first for Dazed and all went well – although a warden did try to move us along while we were projecting onto Nelson’s Column. No disrespect was intended, but this was a way to get our readers’ messages across. Many young people feel they aren’t being listened to by our government, and with Trump’s helicopters flying over London – a visit that many Londoners didn’t want – it felt like the perfect moment to make a big statement.


“There have been no complaints and we’ve been swamped with compliments.”

The Illuminator’s Emily Andersen told Dazed their main aim was to: “Shine a light on the urgent issues of our time – we’ve done a great job of having a moment of intervention, but also involving the power of the audience.”

Jack Mills worked in collaboration with Dazed’s Head of Video Bec Evans who is launching a short film about the night tonight (18 July) on

Architecture alumni make the grade!

University of Brighton architecture graduates have scooped a technical design award for renovation and extension of a Grade 2 listed building.

The team, from Cityzen, the architecture and engineering practice in Portslade, beat competition from across the region to win the Best Extension or Alteration category in this year’s Local Authority Building Control South East Awards. All winners progress to the Grand Finals to be held in London later this year.

Cityzen director John Smith said planning for the conversion at Ditchling took two years and there were 54 planning conditions to observe.

John started out as a building services engineer and re-trained in architectural technology at the University of Brighton back in 2003 so he could “deliver coordinated design solutions”.

He said: “This combination of creativity and technical know-how was just what this project needed. It took nearly 200 drawings and sketches to detail what was required to rebuild and restore the property.”

The Cityzen team, including four University of Brighton alumni from the Architectural Technology course, joined Nutshell Construction on the project, overseen by Lewes District Council building control.

John said: “This project threw curve balls at every turn, but the clients and entire project team were determined to reach the end goal. The new extension has given the property back its balance and symmetry yet we’ve kept its historic soul.”

For more information about Cityzen, go to:

Brighton Voices: Are Rights Universal?

Our second Brighton Voices event took place on Tuesday 15th May, again at the Sallis Benney Theatre, this time focussing on the question: “are rights universal?”

In the current climate when the rights of some have started to be eroded, the impact of this potentially affects us all, regardless of circumstance, background or status.  Growing numbers of people are disadvantaged by complex rather than binary issues such as estranged adults, affected by issues of sexuality, ethnicity and so on. As our rights are interdependent and interrelated, it is vital now more than ever that we stand together.

Professor Katherine Johnson (Director of the University of Brighton’s Centre for Transforming Sexuality and Gender) was joined by our alumni panellists, Tony Kalume (Chair of Diversity Lewes), Becca Bland (CEO, Stand Alone) and Adam Pearson (actor, presenter and award winning disability rights campaigner) to share their perspectives on the topic of universal rights in today’s world, before opening up the discussion to the audience of students, staff, alumni and local community members.

A range of elements were discussed including the impact of culture and religion on rights and how different generations view rights in different ways.  There was a lot of emphasis on the importance of education when considering rights and ensuring information was available to all.  The audience asked the panel how they dealt with instances of ignorance and examples were shared by all the panellists about times when they simply couldn’t make a difference and had to walk away.  As visible spokespeople for their minorities, they felt they were in a privileged position in terms of trying to help individuals and groups change their mind, but admitted that at times, it wasn’t easy to reach everyone.  Adam Pearson summed up his views on this in simple terms: “Be the best you can be, don’t worry about trying to get people to be the best they can be.”

Following the success of our first two Brighton Voices events, we will be organising more in the coming months focussing on other important and timely topics.  If you have any suggestions for topics we should cover and/or if you would like to be a panel member for a future event, please contact

Brighton Voices: is free speech possible?

On the evening of 14th May, the Sallis Benney Theatre played host to the first edition of Brighton Voices – a new series of events allowing the University of Brighton to bring together our outstanding academic experts with some of our amazing former students who are working in important fields and making significant advances in their areas of passion and interest.

The objective of each event is to encourage discussion and debate on timely societal issues, demonstrating that the University of Brighton and its wider community of alumni and friends can provide constructive and meaningful contributions on matters we all care about.

This first Brighton Voices event focussed on the question: “is free speech still possible?”.

Freedom of speech and expression has a long history that predates modern international human rights instruments – as early as the late 5th century BC. 70 years ago, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted and stated: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Today, freedom of speech is recognised in international and regional human rights law and also that this should include via any medium, including the internet or through art forms.

But with the prevalence of social media, has there been an increase in open intolerance and what are our responsibilities to reflect and resist? Also, is it acceptable for writers to tackle any topic today or are some now off-limits?

Dr Jess Moriarty (principal lecturer in Creative Writing) chaired the event and was joined by our alumni panellists, Munroe Bergdorf (model and activist), Graham Duff (scriptwriter, producer and comic actor) and Tanaka Mhishi (poet, playwright and performer) to share their perspectives on the topic of freedom of speech in today’s society, before opening up the discussion to the audience of students, staff, alumni and local community members.

A range of elements were addressed including the changing language used to describe different statuses and how sometimes language can divide as well as unite us, the importance of using the right sort of opportunities to address bigotry, how creating abhorrent characters within fiction can help raise awareness and eradicate discrimination and how although we have a legal right to free speech, we also have a moral obligation in the way we use our rights.  The audience asked the panel members for their thoughts about the future of free speech and also whether there are still challenging times to navigate before Utopia could be reached.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening of lively and insightful discussion with a few laughs along the way!

More Brighton Voices events will be organised in the coming months to showcase the impact and expertise of our academics and alumni.

Brighton Business School celebrates 25 years of university status!

On 28th April Brighton Business School hosted a 25th anniversary gathering. Over 100 staff, students and alumni attended the event which took place in Mithras House.  The day began with a keynote speech by Business Studies with Finance alumna Laura Carlton (Director of Commercial Credit Integration at American Express). Laura reflected on the changes and innovations in the business world. This was followed by a panel discussion. The panel was chaired by Peter McCullen (Deputy Head of Brighton Business School (Quality)).

The panel comprised of three graduates and one student. They were:

Laura Carlton (Director of Commercial Credit Integration at American Express)

Ranjeet Kaile (Director of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust – MBA Public Service Management, 2011)

Stefana Brown (Operational Risk Manager Legal & General. BA (Hons) International Business, 2003, MSc Business Process Management 2004.)

Audrey Charowa (Student, International Business)

They discussed important changes in different areas of business.  There was a focus on innovation in technology which now allows organisations to run more smoothly and internationally and also discussion about constantly learning and testing new ideas. Audrey was able to take part in the discussion from the perspective of a current student which created an interesting contrast with the graduates who are all working in industry.

After the panel discussion, guests had the opportunity to choose their next activity.

They could try their hand investing in the stock market in the trading room.

If they wanted some relaxation, they could attend Aroma Chillax with Zoe Swan (Law Course Leader) where they had the chance to support their well-being with pure oils, self-massage and guided relaxation.

For the beer enthusiasts there was Craft beer tasting from Bison Beer and Sussex cheese to compliment it.

The students who attended the event then had the opportunity to speed network with alumni for half an hour before everyone took a coach to Brighton Museum for the evening reception.  At this point guests had a quick introduction from museum staff and then the opportunity to explore the exhibits as they wished.

Alumni, staff and students had a great time at the event and there was a wonderful celebratory atmosphere to mark 25 years since Brighton achieved university status.

New York, New York alumni 25th Gathering

On Friday 13th April a group of graduates gathered in New York to raise a glass to celebrate 25 years of Brighton achieving university status. Alumna Nabila Aydin, who works for FDM Group in New York, organised the meet. By chance, Vice Chancellor Professor Debra Humphris was visiting New York at the time and was able to go along and join the group. Nabila said:

“It was pleasure to host this event on behalf of FDM Group for University of Brighton Alumni in New York. I am an alumna myself and have such fond memories of my time in Brighton. FDM Group was originally founded in Brighton and we have lots of alumni still working at the company including the COO, Sheila Flavell. It was an honour to have the Vice Chancellor, Debra Humphris in attendance too – she’s an inspiration and role model to all of us.”

If you would like to host one of our 25 gatherings to celebrate Brighton achieving university status, please send us an email to and we can provide you with goodie bags for the event and help you invite other alumni in your area!

A visit from alumnus Ray Jones 60 years after graduating!

Ray points to himself in a picture from uni!

Raymond (Ray) Jones paid a visit to the University of Brighton – 60 years after graduating.

The 81-year-old contacted the UoB Students Union out of the blue and they responded by inviting him for a tour of the campuses during which Raymond declared: “My years in Brighton were the best of my life.”

Ray graduated from what was then Brighton Technical College near The Level in 1958 with a Diploma in Engineering, and OND in Mechanical Engineering and a First Class Intermediate and Second Class Final City and Guilds Machine Shop Engineering.

Ray chose Brighton to study because “it was the best in the world” but the driving force for him gaining a college education came from his parents – he was ashamed at failing his

Ray (bottom right) with Brighton Students’ Association colleagues 

school exams and wanted to make his mother and father proud. His head teacher helped him win a place at college by writing a testimonial to the college principal – and he was accepted.

He said: “I was determined – I did not want to let my parents down again and I knew I had something in me.”

Ray dedicated himself to his studies: “I’d wake at 6am every day and study for two hours and as soon as I came home from college I’d study for another two hours. I wanted my parents to be proud of me and, in the end, they were.”

Throughout his time in Brighton Ray was supported by his parents. They paid his term fees of £127 and sent him four £1 notes and a ten shilling note for his keep every week for the four years, from their home in Llanelli, Wales.

In those days students wore ties and jackets and as for his highlights, he said: “That’s easy, it was the lunchtime dances in the college’s main hall. They had a record player, speakers and a DJ. It was a penny to get in and that would buy you a record choice – something by Johnny Mathis, Perry Como or those new fellas, Bill Haley and Elvis-someone-or-another.” Ray met his wife at an evening dance in the college hall and the couple later married and had three children.

It wasn’t an entirely study-focused time for Ray and during one evening out with friends, he was accused of defacing the statue of Queen Victoria near the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. He insists female friends were responsible but it was he who was forced to clean up.

Recreation of Ray’s photograph with the current sabbatical officers

Ray was Secretary of what was then Brighton Students’ Association, now the Students’ Union, and he still meets with surviving colleagues to this day. “The main thing I remember is the people, friends for life, and it’s a very strange feeling coming back after all these years – I can still see myself amongst my friends here 60 years ago.”

Ray said of today’s Students’ Union officers: “They’re fantastic, wonderful people.” Ray was contacted by Amy Jaiteh, the Students’ Union Vice-President Welfare and Campaigns, who said: “We were really excited to meet Ray and to hear some of his memories of when he was here.”

Ray played rugby for the college, as does Students’ Union President Calum McNally. Calum said: “Speaking with Ray, it’s incredible how much has changed as far as the fabric of buildings is concerned, and yet, how little has changed regarding student life. I listen to Ray and think ‘that’s like me all those years ago’. It’s a lovely story.”

After graduating Ray, who now lives near Dorking, Surrey, enjoyed a successful career. His final job before retiring in 2002 was Project Manager for the British Standards Institute, which he joined in 1992.  He was responsible for the production and publication of the ‘Knowledge Management – a guide to good practice’ for the Institute’s predecessor, the National Standards Body.

Previously, he spent 20 years covering projects in aviation, mining and general engineering, and was responsible for the introduction of the first batch of Boeing 747 – 400 Full Flight Simulators and of heavy duty tunnelling machines for the British Mining and Civil Engineering industries.

Ray shares memories from his time as a student

He conducted research for Bristol Siddely Engines and worked with Sir Frank Whittle on the ‘Turbo Drill’ project, and obtained four engineering patents during his career.

During his tour Ray met the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Pole, and was impressed by the vastly improved and expanded buildings and facilities the University offers today.

But would he come back and study again? He said: “I often have dreams about things in the past and my time in Brighton, but being a student again? No way.”

That said, he would definitely be welcomed back in a flash. In the alumni department, we found a report card from Ray’s head of department all those years ago.

It read: “Lively, pleasant; worked reasonably well.

“Conduct – excellent.”

Health and Management Alumna Preeta Varghese tells us about her career in healthcare

I graduated with a MSc. in Health and Management earlier this year. I currently work for the Surrey and Sussex NHS Healthcare Trust as a Team Leader in the Outpatients Department.

Prior to this, I worked for a private healthcare group in Belfast, which is where I’m originally from. I wanted to further my education and advance my career hence, I decided to resign my job and do Master’s full-time. My Master’s degree helped me develop management knowledge and skills around areas such as leading and transforming services, leadership roles, managing people in the public sector and health law and ethics and my dissertation topic was based on NHS performance targets. The research I did around various topics as part of my modules and dissertation gave me a good insight into various subjects such as how to manage people and about National Standards with regard to waiting times, in great detail. The latter greatly helped me in my current role to understand the consequences of breaching waiting time targets and how to manage waiting time lists to provide patients with appointments within appropriate timescales.

When I decided to relocate to Surrey to begin my career in the NHS, not only that I had to get adjusted to a new city, but I also had the challenge of learning about the new job, hospital work environment and culture. It was the exact same feeling I had when I moved to Brighton for the first time- it was both nerve wrecking and exciting at the same time!

Although I always wanted to work for the public health sector, it was quite a challenge to take up the job as I had no previous experience of working in the NHS or managing a team. However, when I got to know that my Master’s degree was the deciding factor for the interview panel to offer me the role, I felt confident that I could manage a team on my own.

My Master’s degree along with the work experience and skills I gained over the years, significantly helped me find my feet in the new work environment. I have been able to successfully apply a few management theories and concepts at my workplace, in the span of just six months, particularly on ways to motivate my team and to adapt different management styles according to the context.

Recently, I accepted a new job offer, which will be on a higher pay band, within the same hospital and I believe the new role will enable me to make more use of my academic knowledge and skills to manage a bigger team and to handle more responsibilities.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Brighton, both my academic life and the city life. I was lucky to have had the most supportive lecturers who were always available to offer help and guidance, when needed. A tip for students currently pursuing their degree is to stay focused and to seek help from your lectures when necessary and to make the most of the resources provided by the University to ace your degree!