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!

OSTC Brighton v Sussex Trading Challenge 2018

The OSTC Trading Challenge facilitated by alumni Sam Baker provides a unique opportunity for finance students to test their trading skills on a live simulated trading platform. The virtual environment allows students to trade financial derivatives across a range of products including; commodities, equities and fixed income.

The University’s OSTC trading room enables students to use virtual funds to invest in the market as they see fit. The markets and industry news are real; the positions, profits and losses are fictional.

The challenge teaches students to make decisions under pressure, take calculated risks and experience the excitement of the trading floor. The student with the largest profit at the end of the competition is invited to a week-long experience as a Junior Trader at the OSTC Brighton office. The top five traders from the event receive a trophy at the annual awards evening held in Brighton.

This year’s event was a close affair with Brighton taking the overall victory for the second year a row! This takes the overall series to 3-3 making the competition in 2019 even more exciting.

The event as always was very well received with over 40 students attending each of the launch events and continually asking questions throughout the game period. There was a huge range of skill bases involved, from first time traders to those that had traded before on their own.

The aim of the event is offer students a taster of life as a trader to allow them to make

an informed decision as to whether this is the career for them. It also enables OSTC to interact with students who have a passion for the financial markets and have implemented successful strategies over the course of the 5 week event.

OSTC Brighton have a number of alumni from both Brighton and Sussex universities, with previous winners still succeeding at the highest level within the OSTC group.

‘As an alumni of Brighton University, it gives me great pleasure to offer the same opportunity to others that I received when I left university. Working with OSTC not only gave be a great start to my career, but changed my life too’ – Sam Baker

In order to become a successful trader we look for graduates with good numerical and analytical skills; an entrepreneurial attitude; a disciplined approach to work; and the commitment and dedication to succeed.

Celebrating 25 years in Kenya!

A small group of graduates reunited in Nairobi, Kenya to mark 25 years of Brighton achieving university status. Angeline Elliott from the International Office facilitated this gathering at the hotel she was staying at during her travels.

She enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the graduates and described the evening as an intimate social event for alumni to gather and share stories about their experiences in Brighton and of the University.

The graduates updated Angeline and each other on their career successes.  All of them are employed in various interesting roles. Among them were two recent architecture graduates in work placements as part of the process to becoming fully qualified architects.

Also Mathew Muraya (International Hospitality Management, class of 2016) who is training to work in digital marketing and was due to attend a business meeting at 10pm that same night!

The event was a great opportunity for the graduates to connect with each other and share their stories of their time studying.

We are trying to hold 25 gatherings all over the world to mark 25 years of Brighton achieving university status. If you would like to host a gathering of graduates to mark 25 years, please get in touch by emailing

International award for Freya

A University of Brighton alumna has won an international award for design.

Freya Richmond is the only designer from the UK among the three winners of the Printeriors 2018 design competition, run by the

Federation of European Screen Printers Associations (FESPA), a global federation of 37 national associations for the screen printing, digital printing and textile printing community. Two other winners are from Sweden and Denmark.

The winning designs will feature in this year’s Printeriors Airport Lounge of the Future, at FESPA Global Print Expo, which takes place from 15 to 18 May 2018 at the Messe exhibition centre in Berlin.

The competition was run in conjunction with ARTS THREAD, a world-leading network for new creatives, received 180 entries.

Freya, who graduated from the University with a BA(Hons) in Printed Textiles with Business Studies last summer, is now working for Richard Quinn screen printing and sublimation printing on to fabrics.

She said: “Wow, this is hugely exciting and what an incredible opportunity for me as a print designer to see my prints come to life at FESPA. Arts Thread have been a huge support in emerging designers, welcoming them in to the industry. Thank you to Artsthread and FESPA for choosing my designs to be part of this amazing show. Very much looking forward to Berlin. ”

The winners were decided by competition judges: Christian Duyckaerts, FESPA President and owner of Retail Communicators; Christophe Aussenac, FESPA Vice President and director ATC Groupe; and Debbie McKeegan, textile ambassador for FESPA.

The brief was to design a pattern to be realised in every element of the Printeriors feature entitled ‘Airport Lounge of the Future 2030’. The final three designs will be used on furniture, walling, flooring, windows and soft furnishings.

Debbie McKeegan said: “The quality of entries for our first Printeriors competition was exemplary and a tribute to the talent of the next design generation. After careful consideration, and much deliberation, three designers offering a unique vision were selected.”

Christian Duyckaerts adds: “The number of good design entries made it very difficult to pick three winners. The winning designs reflect a perfect combination between design and colour selection within three totally different atmospheres and all of them very suitable for printed interior design. I’m looking forward to seeing how they are realised in Printeriors.”

The three winners have won a trip to FESPA 2018 in Berlin to see their designs come to life in Printeriors 2018. For more information on Printeriors and FESPA Global Print Expo visit:

To see all the winners and more information on ARTS THREAD, go to:

Alumna sailing to the Arctic in the name of art

A graduate artist has won a place on an Arctic expedition which aims to highlight how human activity has influenced changes to the climate and environment.

Adele Gibson, 59, was awarded an MA in Fine Art at the University of Brighton earlier this year and took up the challenge “to witness these changes first-hand”.

She said: “I am a visual artist with a background in science and more latterly, landscape oil painting. I am approaching the end of my sixth decade and wanted to step outside the comforts of my daily life, face new challenges and do something meaningful.”

Adele has been awarded a place on an international artist and scientist expedition to Svalbard, Norway, in the High Arctic in June with the organisation The Arctic Circle, an annual expeditionary residency programme bringing together artists, scientists, architects, and educators to explore remote destinations aboard a specially outfitted Barquentine sailing vessel.

Quite a challenge for someone who suffers from sea-sickness and the cold: “I plan to mitigate the cold with good Arctic clothing and I hope to remedy any sea-sickness with acupuncture – I have a friend who is going to teach me how to administer acupuncture myself.”

Adele, who lives and paints in Lewes, said she was delighted to have been selected for the trip: “It was during my research at the University that I became aware of the impact that we are having on our natural world: the changes in the Arctic are being experienced more rapidly than anywhere else in the world.

“I have visited Iceland twice and have a strong emotional response to the sublime icy and glaciated landscape there and this inspires my paintings. My residency in Svalbard will allow me to spend a longer period of uninterrupted time in the Arctic region and will also enable me to make contact and collaborate with artists and scientists who are researching similar themes.

“The project is important to me in terms of allowing me to visit a remote and very special environment and I hope to use the experience to make work that communicates the unique beauty and fragility of the Arctic region.  In the current political environment it is more important than ever before that we recognise the facts of what is happening on our planet.”

Adele has found half the £6,000 cost of the trip through the sale of her art and is crowdfunding the remainder for “flights, woolly socks, underwear and mineral watercolour pigments and other art materials”. Go to:

For more information on Adele, go to:

Express rise for University of Brighton graduate

A University of Brighton alumna has been appointed Chief Diversity Officer for American Express at their New York headquarters.

Sonia Cargan has enjoyed a 22-year career with American Express, holding a range of human resources roles in Europe, Asia, and North America, and building a track record of partnering with business leaders to drive strategic organisational goals.

Prior to becoming Chief Diversity Officer, Sonia was Senior HR Business Partner for a portfolio of American Express Groups including Global Finance, the General Counsel’s Organisation, Global Advertising and Brand Management, the Internal Audit Group and Corporate Affairs & Communications.

Sonia graduated with a BA(Hons) degree in social administration from the University in 1991: “I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Brighton, so much so that I settled in the town after I graduated and I consider Brighton my adopted home. My children are Brightonians and proud Seagull fans!”

Sonia completed a second course at the University, qualifying her as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. She said the courses she most enjoyed related to government policy, understanding the decision making process and historical context: “As we try to effect change it’s important to understand and appreciate the journey and to recognise the broader environment.”

Sonia’s new appointment means she will lead a team of global diversity and inclusion professionals. She will serve as a conduit to the company’s 15 active colleague networks with nearly 100 chapters globally, working to promote a culture of inclusion, increase colleague engagement and provide development opportunities to help colleagues advance throughout the organisation.

She said: “I am excited to build on American Express’ long-standing diversity and inclusion best practices. In the coming months, I will be dialing up our emphasis on inclusivity to continue fostering a company culture where differences are embraced and high-performing, diverse teams are enabled to reach their full potential.”

Kevin Cox, Chief Human Resources Officer for American Express, said: “Sonia is a long-time advocate of the business results that can be achieved through the development of a diverse and inclusive organisation.

“As an executive with a wealth of global experience, she is also ideally suited to continue to elevate and evolve our diversity and inclusion strategies through a global lens.”

Top alumni artists in Brighton exhibition

Works by internationally acclaimed artists Rachel Whiteread CBE and Sir Antony Gormley will feature in a new exhibition coming to the University of Brighton in March.

‘Marks Make Meaning: drawing across disciplines’ focuses on the diversity of drawing and running alongside the exhibition will be a series of events sponsored by the University’s Brighton Creative Futures, which provides a focus for research and enterprise activity.

Open to the public, the exhibition is hosted by the University’s School of Art and its new Drawing Research and Enterprise Group (REG), and is being held at the University’s gallery in Grand Parade, Brighton.

University graduate Rachel Whiteread, one of Britain’s leading artists and sculptors, was the first woman to win the Turner Prize and received an honorary Doctor of Letters from the University in 1998.

Antony Gormley OBE, creator of the Angel of the North, taught at the University’s former Brighton College of Art. Both started their careers in Brighton.

Marks Make Meaning will honour celebrated University alumni and will showcase the range of drawing research and practice across the University. It will also be a platform for collaborative projects with external partners.

There are three main strands to the event: space and place, health and wellbeing, and education and learning. There will be workshops and talks from experts including Isabel Seligman from the British Museum’s Department of Prints and Drawings, consultant hand surgeon Donald Sammut, Royal Academy of Art’s environmental artist Emma Stibbon, printmaker/painter and University lecturer Tom Hammick, and Emeritus Professor and children’s author John Vernon Lloyd.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Philippa Lyon, from the Drawing REG and Duncan Bullen, Deputy Head of the School of Art. He said: “Drawing practices, from explanatory sketches and diagrams through to maps, prints, plans and much more, are fundamental to many disciplines and professions.

“They are deeply embedded across the arts, architecture and many other design subjects and are also part of learning in subjects as wide-ranging as engineering and medicine. In the context of an international growth in drawing research, Brighton’s particular focus is on the understanding and applications of drawing.”

There will be a private view on 9 March and the exhibition will be open to the public from 12 to 29 March.

For more information and to book attendance, go to:

Could you volunteer to support a school in Sussex?

The University of Brighton Academies Trust is looking for volunteers to join the Local Boards of academies based in Hastings, St Leonards and Crawley.

Local Board members act as an essential link between an academy school and its local community. They have a positive impact on young people’s lives; using their

personal and professional skills to help shape the vision of an academy, celebrate success and ensure every child reaches their potential.

Individuals are being sought with a variety of skills and backgrounds from fundraising to strategic planning. Full training and support is offered, providing volunteers with board-level leadership and strategy skills.

Local Board members become part of the Trust’s network of 15 academies across Sussex all supporting each other, and their pupils, to excel.

What it means to be a Local Board member

Paul Taylor is currently serving on the Local Board of Robsack Wood Primary Academy and Josephine Notaras is at Desmond Anderson Primary Academy. They highlight the crucial role these posts play in schools and local communities.

Paul said, “I volunteered as I wanted to put something back into the school. The role itself is enlightening, educating and rewarding and I enjoy seeing the children flourish… in their environment.”

Josephine said, “As a mother of four I’m a firm believer in the importance of a good education. I see my role as a critical friend to the academy and I find being a Local Board member interesting and inspiring!”

How to apply

To find out more and apply visit The Academies Trust website.