American UK alumni credit UK education at awards ceremony

26 March 2015

The inaugural Education UK Alumni Awards culminated in a fabulous awards ceremony held this week in New York. 

The Alumni Awards celebrate the successes and achievements of alumni from UK universities who have returned home and gone on to achieve success in their professional careers. The awards raise the profile of universities in the UK in overseas countries, as well as inspiring others to reach their potential by studying in the UK. 

At their awards ceremony in New York, all three winners of the Education UK Alumni Awards USA said their UK education was the starting point for their successful careers.

They include the co-founder of a company that develops compounds to treat diseases, a law specialist working on high-profile Guantánamo Bay cases, and the developer of a US-wide technology talent programme that has significantly increased the number of women in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths).

"Alumni relations is about relationships. The applicants who stood out among the pack were the alumni who clearly demonstrated how their UK education prepared them for competitive and demanding careers." said Dr Gretchen Dobson, chair of the USA judging panel.

Professional Achievement Award: Presented to Mitch Robinson, an international law specialist for the US Department of Defense, who studied at Aberystwyth University. He is currently working on Guantánamo Bay cases. His areas of specialism include human rights in domestic, regional and global systems, as well as disputes between states and multinational corporations.

Mitch said that his UK education "completely transformed my analytical approach to research and life", as well as giving him the tools to take on a challenging and rewarding career path which he hopes will inspire others.

Entrepreneurial Award: This award, for alumni who have succeeded in launching strong new business opportunities, was presented to Chandler Robinson who studied at the University of Cambridge. Chandler is co-founder and chief executive of Tactic Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company developing pre-clinical and clinical stage compounds for medical needs.

Tactic has successfully received orphan drug status from the US Food & Drug Administration for the treatment of Wilson’s disease (a genetic disorder that is fatal unless treated), as well as a European Partnership Agreement. The drug should soon have the chance to benefit over 200,000 Wilson’s patients around the world.

Studying in the UK on a Gates Cambridge Scholarship developed Chandler’s business judgment and leadership skills, as well as his confidence to manage a company. Chandler says that the "global and diverse perspectives obtained from the programme proved a tremendous advantage".

Social Impact award: Presented to Ruthe Farmer who studied at the University of Oxford, this award was for alumni who have made an exceptional contribution to creating positive social change and improving the lives of others. 

Ruthe is now chief strategy and growth officer for the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) in the US, a not-for-profit group of more than 600 organisations dedicated to increasing the number of women working in the technology industry.

Since 2008 Ruthe has developed NCWIT Aspirations in Computing into the country’s largest technology talent programme for young women.

Ruthe says her UK education provided her with both "the language and culture to navigate corporate networks", and the business skills to work toward her vision of equality. Her determination to address the under-representation of women in STEM has inspired many young women to do the same.

Following a hugely successful pilot year, which saw over 400 applications from the three countries, plans are underway for the rollout of the campaign in a total of ten countries in 2015/16. Details of Alumni Awards for 2015/16 will be announced shortly.