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University marks glittering success of its alumni

Published: 30 November 2018 at 10:55

Julia Woolf receiving her award

Awards celebrate achievements of former Anglia Ruskin University students

Inspirational former students have been recognised by their alma mater, Anglia Ruskin University, at an annual celebration event held last night in Chelmsford.

The Vice Chancellor’s Outstanding Alumni Awards were held at Anglia Ruskin to congratulate graduates who have gone on to achieve success in their respective fields, or who have made outstanding contributions to society.

Nominations in five categories were received, including from staff, students and fellow alumni, and a judging panel including influential former students as well as senior Anglia Ruskin staff decided on the winners, which were as follows:

Alumni Service to Society Award: Kirsty Shakespeare

A 2008 graduate of Zoology, Kirsty’s work over the past seven years teaching Environmental and Sustainability Education has allowed her to engage more than half a million people across the UK, Seychelles, Dubai, America and currently in Thailand.

She aims to foster a love and respect for our natural environments and encourage them to take steps towards a more sustainable future. She is grateful to have found a job that allows her to share her passion with others and hopes to inspire more young people to pursue careers in the environmental field.

Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year Award: Dr Carsten Mahrenholz

With a background in Biology and Chemistry, Carsten co-founded COLDPLASMATECH GmbH in 2015 and became a pioneer in plasma medicine. 

This team developed a medical device for treating chronic wounds and killing multiresistant bacteria. Amongst various awards and prizes for business, innovation and technology, they received the IQ innovation award, the Leibniz Founder Prize and the German Innovation Award 2018.

He graduated from the MBA Business Administration in 2008. 

Alumni Contribution to Culture Award: Julia Woolf 

Julia will have her third author/illustrated book published next year along with several books which she has illustrated.  One of her illustrations, Fox in the Forest, was chosen by architects as inspiration for a school building in south London, which subsequently won the RIBA London Award for 2018.

Before attending Anglia Ruskin Julia worked for Dreamworks Animation where she designed the opening sequences of the first two Shrek movies as well as working in visual development on Madagascar and sequence design on the Aardman co-production Flushed Away. 

She decided to move back to England to take the MA in Children’s Book Illustration and graduated in 2015.

Young Alumni of the Year Award (under 35 years of age): Tanya Porter and Mateo Oxley (joint winners) 

Tanya Porter was shortlisted as a finalist in the Royal College of Nursing awards 2018 thanks to her work at Addenbrooke’s Hospital as a specialist OPAT nurse helping to develop and expand the service alongside both the senior nursing and medical OPAT team.

Tanya graduated from the DHE Registered Nurse course in 2013. 

Mateo Oxley was recently invited to become the first Alumni Ambassador for the Arts Educational Schools London, where he trained in Dance and Drama. Professionally, he has enjoyed a varied and successful career including several productions at The Royal National Theatre and he made his film debut in WW2 period drama Magpie, which premiered this September.

Mateo graduated with a BA (Hons) in Popular Music in 2013. Whilst studying he performed extensively with prestigious theatrical societies including The Marlowe, Cambridge Footlights and The Cambridge American Stage Tour.

Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award: Professor Amare Desta 

Due to his passion for learning, Professor Amare Desta was chosen as one of the five most outstanding learners in the East Anglia region and awarded a prize by the UK Shadow Secretary of State for Education at the University of Cambridge Institute of Continuing Education (ICE).

Amare is also Co-founder and Chair of the Global Knowledge Exchange Network (GKEN) and a Director of the Ethiopian Doctoral & Masters Academy (EDMA).

He graduated in 1997 from his BSc (Hons) Computer Science course before joining the London School of Economics (LSE) and graduating with an MSc degree two years later. He then began his teaching career at the LSE before joining London South Bank University as a full-time Senior Lecturer. Amare earned his Doctorate degree in 2009 before obtaining a Master of Education (MEd) degree from the University of Cambridge.  

Professor Roderick Watkins, Acting Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University, said:


“When someone graduates from Anglia Ruskin University, they remain part of our community for life, and it is always a tremendous pleasure to welcome our former students to campus.

“There were some extremely talented and inspirational people shortlisted for awards, and we’re very proud of all of them, and the part we have played in their success. Their stories show our current students what they themselves can achieve.”