Looking back on 2020 has reminded us of the remarkable ways we brought our alumni community together, celebrated their success and helped support our students during a year like no other.
Here are our highlights.
At the start of the year, our Global Vice-President, Vanessa Potter, met with a group of alumni in Taiwan. It was a great opportunity to share news from the University and hear where life has taken some of our graduates.
On an institutional visit to Pakistan, we visited several universities in Lahore and Islamabad and were thrilled to host a special dinner for alumni working in academia. It was a fantastic opportunity to network with alumni to discuss education, research and possible areas of collaboration.
In March our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Anthony Forster, led an institutional visit to Colombia and Mexico, meeting with various partner institutions and hosting two very successful alumni events in Monterrey and Mexico City. We caught up with nearly 100 alumni, sharing news and updates from Essex, and of course hearing about how their lives had changed since graduation.
The world as we knew it started to change with the outbreak of coronavirus. The shattering impacts were being felt by all, including many Essex students who felt the hit financially. It was at this point that we launched The Hardship Fund. We acted quickly to launch the appeal, working fast to raise emergency funds for students in need. We called on our alumni community, and you answered. To date we have raised over £227,000 and we couldn’t have done it without you.
Friday 7 May marked Nightline’s 50th anniversary. Nightline is a student listening service which was founded at Essex by our students back in 1970. Since then, it has expanded across the country and now operates at most UK universities, providing a listening ear to students at all hours of the night.
Essex alumni always speak so fondly about Nightline, whether their experience as a volunteer or service user. We collected memories of those involved in Nightline and shared on social media throughout the day – the response was heart-warming, with many more alumni sharing their anecdotes and experiences. Here’s to the next 50 years of Nightline!
In June, we decided to try something new and launched After Essex. After Essex is an online event series celebrating some of our most inspirational alumni around the globe. In an informal conversation, we chat to a guest graduate, hearing about their time at Essex and how that lead them to where they are now.
We launched the series with a sustainability campaigner and fashion activist. Since then, we’ve caught up with some remarkable alumni, chatting to an investigative journalist, an astrobiologist who’s been to Mars (kind of!) and an actor and disability advocate – just to name a few! Now’s the perfect time to catch up on any you missed.
We have some impressive guests lined up for 2021 including recent graduate and award-winning nurse Amma Frimpong and our Chancellor, John Bercow.
Usually, the month of July is centred around graduation and welcoming our newest graduates to their alumni community. As ceremonies couldn’t take place this year, we invited alumni to share their messages of congratulations to the Class of 2020. We were overwhelmed with the response as alumni from across the globe got involved. We have no doubt that the kind and inspiring messages given to the Class of 2020 filled them with encouragement as they entered a new stage of their life at such a challenging time.
We paid tribute to our amazing community of staff, students and alumni including Amma Frimpong (MSc Adult Nursing, 2020) for working tirelessly on the NHS frontline and Kwame Taylor (LLB Law with Philosophy, 2019) who won a prestigious scholarship enabling him to train as a barrister.
We never get tired of sharing the inspiring stories of Essex graduates.
Three Essex alumni were shortlisted in the Global Finals of the Study UK Alumni Awards. Out of 21 finalists from across all UK universities, three of them were Essex graduates! On top of that, seven further Essex alumni were shortlisted as finalists in the national awards of their home country. You can read about all our finalists and their inspiring stories, including Yiping Xia, who won the Entrepreneurial Award in China.
We celebrated Black History Month, sharing stories of alumni who inspire us with their passion, dedication and innovation. Our social media channels were flooded with support for their successes and achievements.
We also spoke to Whitney Joseph (LLB Law, 2012) in a special After Essex event and hosted Being Black at Essex, a panel discussion which provided a platform for an important conversation between students and alumni on their experiences of racism at Essex and what can be done to tackle it within our community.
In November, honorary graduate, journalist and TV presenter David Dimbleby hosted a special event for the Festival of Social Science.
Who Needs Experts Anyway? was an online debate between Essex academics and researchers on how expertise informs opinion and fuels change across society. The conversation focussed on Brexit and the Coronavirus pandemic and provided a great platform to discuss the role experts have played in both challenging situations.
And now, as we write this, December is here and 2020 is almost behind us.
We all needed a bit of festive fun to raise our spirits after an incredibly tough year. For this reason, we brought you The Big Essex Quiz, which was hosted by our Chancellor, John Bercow, and featured special appearances from some of our best-known alumni and honorary graduates.
It was brilliant and fun evening, with 200 of you taking part! Through entry fees and additional donations, we raised an incredible £1,000 for the Hardship Fund.
We hope you’ve enjoyed looking back on 2020 with us. We’d like to thank you for all your support this year. Whether you’ve supported the Hardship Fund, volunteered as a guest speaker for a career talk, joined an event, connected with us on social media, or just simply got in touch to say hello, you’ve helped us bring the Essex alumni community together during what has been a challenging year for all.
We wish you all the best for 2021.