Your stories: autumn 2018

We’d love to know where your Birmingham education has taken you! Send us a photo of yourself at your workplace or location that shows what you are doing now. Use the hashtags #hellobrum and #wearebrumalum on our Twitter and Instagram channels, or by email.

  • 1969

    Dr Ian Johnston CB (BSc Metallurgy and Materials, 1966, PhD Metallurgy Engineering, 1969)

    Dr Ian Johnston

    ‘The article about the 1968 sit-in from the Spring 2018 edition of Old Joe brought back all the apprehension and excitement of that year.

    Inspired by the events in Paris in May, a small handful of student activists persuaded the Guild to call an open meeting to press for student participation in University decision making. This meeting attracted an unexpectedly vast crowd keen to express their annoyance at a huge unilateral increase in food prices, severely denting students' personal budgets. We marched across to the Great Hall to protest, but there was not much shouting, no violence, no graffiti, and no real plan! As an older postgrad I was asked to present our case. The University made a failed attempt to call in the police, and after 10 days of sit-in, and national press coverage, a compromise was reached leading to me becoming the first student representative on the Finance Committee of the University Council. 

    This proved good experience as I ended up as a Vice Chancellor!’

  • 1994

    Jane Simpson, (MSc Electrical and Electronic Engineering, 1994)

    Jane Simpson

    'I became the first female Chief Engineer of the Railways at Network Rail, and I was thrilled to work with professors and students at Birmingham to apply the latest research to our network. Now I’m bringing water to 1.3 million people, at Severn Trent Water. My work ranges from maintaining a massive aqueduct to a new children’s book on creative engineering work, to inspire more people, from more diverse backgrounds, to become engineers.

  • 1995

    Dr Lok Kee Siu (PhD in Electronic, Electrical and Systems Engineering, 1995)

    Dr Lok Kee Siu

    I was part of the first 2018 team to climb Everest. Having climbed in several countries, I have always wanted to see the view from the top of the world. We carried traditional prayer flags to spread blessings, and the flag of Hong Kong, where I use my skills from Birmingham to design, implement and maintain railways.

  • 2009

    Sharon Ashton (BA Creative Writing, 2009)

    ​After gaining a first in 2009, I've had some success as a published and performance poet, but all the time been planning a novel. Now, finally, I'm delighted to say my debut novel The Unravelling of Michael Gilchrist has been published . Available as a paperback or eBook, it's been getting some great reviews, my favourite to date being: “I found its tone lay somewhere satisfyingly between ‘Men Behaving Badly’ and ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’, but seasoned with a darker condiment..." David Bingham, writer/ editorial team of Blithe Spirit Magazine.

  • 2010

    Ruth Sheaves (BSc Geography and Environmental Sciences, 2010)

    Ruth Sheaves

    As Development Officer with the New English Ballet Theatre, I was delighted to return to Birmingham with our 2018 show in October. The second work Remembrance commemorates the Armistice through the true story of leading ballet dancer/teacher Dame Marie Rambert, who was separated from her beloved when he was called to the battlefield.

  • 2013

    James Grant (BA Philosophy, 2013)

    James Grant

    'After graduating, I co-founded the online tutoring platform, MyTutor. We exist to broaden access to high-quality one-to-one support. Last year, we delivered 200,000 online lessons, partnering with 250 schools and 35 universities across the UK, reaching pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. We’re particularly proud to work with the University of Birmingham to support A-Level pupils as part of the Access to Birmingham scheme.

  • 2014

    Pejman Pirgheibi (LLB Law, 2014)

    Pejman Pirgheibi

    I recently realized my dream to become a criminal defence lawyer in Vancouver, BC. I support marginalised people in my community, building on my experience helping at-risk youth make positive choices. With my law degree in hand, I strive to find justice and truth - coming to the University of Birmingham was the best decision I ever made.