International Women's Day 2022: Our Inspirational Alumni

We’re delighted to boast an incredible alumni community, including many inspirational women excelling in their chosen industries. This International Women's Day, we’re looking back at some of the great successes from our talented graduates in the past year.

Alice Stewardson

Quantity Surveying alumna Alice Stewardson was awarded the Most Promising Trainee Quantity Surveyor award at the CECA Southern Young Achiever Awards 2021 thanks to her work at Danaher & Walsh, where she has worked alongside completing her studies for six years.

Alongside her daily responsibilities, Alice also actively promotes positive mental health and wellbeing. As a trained Mental Health First Aider, Alice acts as a confidential first point of contact for colleagues at Danaher & Walsh experiencing mental health concerns.

Read Alice's story

Diana Porter

Sadly, last year BCU alumna Diana Porter passed away. Diana joined BCU when she was 47 to study Jewellery and Silversmithing, and went onto be named UK Jewellery Designer of the Year.

Nicola Coughlan

BCU Acting alumna Nicola Coughlan, who has become a household name thanks to her brilliant roles in Derry Girls and Bridgerton, celebrated great success in the last year, including her Bridgerton character Penelope’s big moment of being revealed as Lady Whistledown, as well as winning the Irish Film and Television Academy’s Rising Star award and launching her very own podcast, Whistle Through the Shamrocks.

Elvinah Xhignesse

Media Production alumna Elvinah Xhignesse has celebrated seeing her hard work behind the screen across the nations TV’s, thanks to her role as a Runner on The Great British Bake Off, as well as BBC Two’s All That Glitters, Channel 4’s The Last Leg and ITV’s In For a Penny. Her work as a Production Assistant and a Researcher on the new series of 24 Hours in A&E will be broadcast later this year.

Read Elvinah's story

Isabelle Uner

Design Management alumna Isabelle Uner was awarded the Group for Learning in Art and Design (GLAD) Postgraduate Student Learning and Teaching Research Prize in 2021.

Isabelle, who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Product and Furniture Design in 2020 before returning to complete an MA in Design Management, won the top prize for her contribution to investigating the impact upon pedagogy within a creative subject discipline.

Find out more

Sally Alexander

BCU Alumna Sally Alexander, who graduated with a PGCE in Secondary Music in 2011, was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for Services to Education last year.

Claire Barnett-Jones

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire alumna Claire Barnett-Jones, who graduated in Vocal and Operatic Studies, won the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience prize in the BBC’s Cardiff Singer of the World too.

Amy Francis-Smith

Architecture graduate Amy Francis-Smith celebrated being awarded the Activism Award at the Archiboo Awards in 2021. Amy graduated with a MArch (RIBA Part 2) from BCU in 2019 before completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Architectural Practice (RIBA Part 3 Exemption).

Now working as an Architect for Pinnegar Hayward Design LLP, Amy was awarded the Activism award after fighting for inclusive design and issues close to her heart. The graduate’s determination to be an advocate for inclusive design stems from her own ill health, with multiple severe chronic illnesses and disabilities.

Read the full story

Laura Mvula

BCU alumna Laura Mvula, who graduated with a BMus (Hons) in Composition in 2008, was nominated for her third consecutive Mercury Prize thanks to her new album Pink Noise.

Morgan Grice

Talented illustration alumna Morgan Grice recently launched her very own stationery business ‘Odd Orange’.

The graduate, who worked with BCU’s BSEEN programme, which offers students and recent graduates a start-up package to turn their business idea into reality, decided to launch her own business just months after graduating, whilst she was already enjoying a successful freelance career.

Read more

Rebecca Struthers

Alumni of the Year recipient Rebecca Struthers was featured in the New York Times last year talking about her career so far. Rebecca studied Horology at BCU, before completing an MA in History of Art and Design.

Charlotte Bray

Alumna Charlotte Bray talked to BBC’s Woman’s Hour to discuss the world premiere of ‘Crossing Faultline’s’ a song cycle commissioned about women’s experiences in the workplace.

Charlotte graduated from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire in 2006 and received the prestigious Alumni of the Year award in 2014.

Hester Ruoff

Acting alumna Hester Ruoff has recently celebrated being nominated for a BAFTA.

Hester, who graduated in 2003, worked as a Producer on the film ‘Boiling Point’ and has been nominated in the ‘Outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer’ category at this year’s awards alongside the film’s writer James Cummings. 

Aida Fofana and Natalia Parzygnat

BCU Journalism graduate Aida Fofana won Best Podcast at last year’s Broadcast Journalism Training Council awards, and fellow alumna Natalia Parzygnat was awarded runner up in the Short Social Video category.

Shona Brownlee

BCU alumna Shona Brownlee was named RAF Sportswoman of the year after recovering from a below the knee amputation and becoming an athlete. Shona graduated in BMus (Hons) from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire before joining the RAF.

Maryam Wahid

Photography graduate Maryam Wahid currently has her first major solo exhibition on display at the Midlands Art Centre (MAC) in Birmingham.

The exhibition is Maryam’s first major photographic exhibition following her success as an expert on the Great British Photography Challenge in 2021, alongside being awarded ‘Portrait of Britain 2021’ by the British Journal of Photography, an award she also received in 2018.

Find out more

Mahdiyah Bandali

After graduating with a BSc (Hons) in Paramedic Science in 2020, Mahdiyah Bandali represented Paramedics at the Royal Carol Service in Westminster Abbey in late 2021.

Neelam Dhansey

BCU alumna Neelam Dhansey’s hard work as a Registered Nursing Associate in Critical Care at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham was shown in ‘We Are England’ on BBC One. Neelam graduated as a Nursing Associate in 2020.