Alumni Association Student Awards: 2015 winners

Read more about the winners of the 2015 Alumni Association Student Awards.

Samantha Pollock (PhD 2011-), Department of Philosophy

Proposer: Dr Kit Patrick, Teaching Fellow, Faculty of Arts

For two years, Samantha has worked with local charity, IDEAL, where she runs philosophy sessions to help former addicts, offenders and people from disadvantaged backgrounds get back on track. Many participants have written themselves off academically, but Samantha helps them find a pathway to further study and also runs sessions for those interested in a foundation year course at the University. Many of those she has worked with have gone on to become students here.

Samantha also works with the Bristol Philosophy Exchange Group to take philosophy into local primary schools, working closely with teachers to identify student needs and interests. Her work often leads to increased confidence among the children: some students who had previously barely spoken have now started to volunteer ideas to the class.

Samantha’s proposer says: 'Samantha has worked to bring philosophy to disadvantaged people and children in the community, giving them a new thoughtfulness, much-needed self-respect and a pathway into academia.'

Conor McGlacken (BSc 2011-), Department of Mathematics

Proposer: Paul Harper, Lecturer in Engineering Design, Faculty of Engineering

Conor has been an outstanding volunteer during his time in Bristol, particularly with Engineers Without Borders UK (EWB UK), an organisation working to give everyone access to the technology they need for a life free from poverty. Conor helped train more than 100 students at the University of Nigeria to run workshops for local schoolchildren, and created his own workshop which both won a European Commission/Practical Action competition and has now been used in more than 70 schools in the UK.

During his fourth year, Conor became President of the EWB UK branch in Bristol, overseeing 150 volunteers and the growth of the society’s projects with local charities such as The Converging World. Conor has also volunteered for Engineering World Health, spending two months in Tanzania repairing hospital equipment.

Conor’s proposer says: 'Conor has been an inspirational role model throughout his time at University and has led by example through the outstanding work he has conducted.'

Eleanor Martin (BA 2012-), Department of German

Proposer: Sarah Redrup, Student Living Officer, Faculty of Arts

While on her year abroad, language student Eleanor started a society devoted to mental health. Her society has since grown into a social hub, providing invaluable support for many students experiencing mental health issues. On her blog, Mental Ellness, Eleanor talks openly about her own experiences of the challenges facing mental health sufferers; she also runs coffee mornings for students who remain in Bristol over the summer, providing essential support for them at what can be a lonely time.

Her openness and commitment to combating the stigma faced by so many has been an inspiration to others and has made a lasting and extremely positive impact on a very large number of students, both at the University and among the wider community.

Eleanor’s proposer says: 'During her time here, Eleanor has worked through severe and enduring mental health difficulties and has proven herself to be a fantastically resilient and inspirational student.'

Gilberto Algar-Faria (PhD 2013-), School of Sociology, Politics and International Studies

Proposer: Steve Gibbs, PhD Electrical & Electronic Engineering, Faculty of Engineering

Gilberto’s work on a multitude of overseas concerns has made him an ambassador for Bristol in post conflict reconciliation and the problems facing asylum seekers. Last year, he presented a lecture on the challenges of attaining peace in Sri Lanka at the University of Sydney, leading to a wider dialogue about asylum seekers arriving in Australia by boat. He contributes to media analysis of related issues in the UK, and provides witness reports to help the courts determine the risks asylum seekers face.

Gilberto is Coordinator of Somali First, promoting Somali-led development and training mid-career research leaders in Hargeisa. At the Foreign Policy Centre, he provides recommendations to policymakers on the promotion of self-determining identity groups.

In addition to his overseas work, Gilberto is equally committed to life at the University, in representation, governance, outreach, teaching, mentoring, communications, networking and pioneering flagship events.

Gilberto’s proposer says: 'I wish to commend Gilberto for his efforts, for his passion and for his breadth of involvement.'