Where did your Birmingham education take you?
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Mike Dunn (BSc Mechanical Engineering, 1955)
I graduated aged just 19 and am still enjoying reasonable health, though taking life at a slower pace. I have happy memories of my time at the University. I was accepted early into the Mechanical Engineering department, although I doubt Professor Bannister expected me to combine my studies with playing rugby. The temptation was too great and I played in the University 1st XV for three years. At the end of each rugby season, I organised a team of casual players to challenge established University teams at their own specialist sports. Our best result was to be beaten by the University netball team by only one point. I was also a committee member of the Evangelical Christian Union.
Dr Ernest Yeoh (MBChB, 1967)
With the next Commonwealth Games coming up, I was reminded of how I met fellow graduate Dr John Aldridge (BSc Clinical Sciences, 1965; MBChB, 1968) at the Kuala Lumpur games in 1998, 31 years after we studied together at the Medical School. We were both serving as team doctors for our respective national teams. John was asking everyone if they had heard of me, so when another England team doctor spotted my name badge, she put us in touch right away! I am now a Professor at MAHSA University in Malaysia. I am also the Chief Medical Officer with the Asia Assistance Network in Malaysia, which provides 24 hour assistance, including air ambulances and medical support.
Dr Abel Idowu Olayinka (PhD Geological Sciences, 1988)
I completed my doctoral research in April 1988 and I returned to my native country, Nigeria, on the next available flight to take up a lectureship position in Applied Geophysics with the Department of Geology at the University of Ibadan. The solid training in critical thinking and creativity that I received at Birmingham has been invaluable in my academic career, which I am ever so proud of. I rose through the ranks to become a Professor and subsequently served as Head of Department, Dean of the Postgraduate School and Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) of the University of Ibadan. I have recently completed an impactful five-year stint as the Vice-Chancellor of the institution, Nigeria’s oldest university.
Nick Gompertz (BSc Anatomical Studies, 1988; MBChB, 1991)
After graduating from the Medical School, I worked as a GP for 21 years, during which I invented the Earswitch. The prototype allows people who are unable to communicate verbally or physically to tense a tiny muscle in their ear to operate an assistive keyboard, like the one used by the late Professor Stephen Hawking. Instead of relying on a muscle in the cheek as current models do, this device uses a muscle in the ear, which people may have control over for longer as their condition progresses over time. I was first inspired to develop the Earswitch when I was a medical student at Birmingham, where I met people who had motor neurone disease.
Miranda Horn (BA Drama and Theatre Arts, 2013)
I am an alumna of the fantastic Drama and Theatre Arts course and now work as an actor and filmmaker, having appeared in West End, Olivier-nominated and leading regional theatre. I am currently making an LGBTQ+ short film named Saltcoats, which was funded by supporters through Kickstarter. Saltcoats is a dark coming-of-age story with a fantasy twist about a young lifeguard in a Scottish seaside town who discovers a mysterious creature in the swimming pool where she works – a Selkie, the seal-woman of Scottish folklore. The story draws on my Scottish background. We will show the film at short and independent film festivals. Search for Saltcoats – A Queer Fable on Facebook.
Hugh Walton (BSc Geography, 2013)
After graduation I was at a bit of a loose end as to what to do. I worked my way around Val d’Isère, Australia and the USA. On my travels I met and befriended people all over the world, one of whom convinced me to pursue a career in real estate. I’m now a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and I currently specialise in industrial land and property. When you finish university, not everyone knows what they want to do. Speaking to my friends at the time, very few knew what career path they wanted, and those who did were studying for more specific degrees such as medicine and law. If you are still unsure of what lies ahead of you, don’t panic and just do whatever makes you happy.
Zografo Kromlidou (BSc International Business, 2018)
After three quick promotions, I am now a Campaign Manager at a financial services company in Manchester. This is my dream job, as I always wanted to combine my creative skills with finance and investments. Even though working in finance can be stressful, I feel that we make a difference to people’s lives by improving their financial future. I’d like to thank my personal tutor, Cristina Sambrook, and Skills Development Adviser, Rosalind Hay, for all the support and guidance they provided throughout my studies. Without their help and support, I wouldn’t have been able to secure this job. I’ll always be grateful to them and to the University; they taught me the skills needed for my role.