We recently had the privilege of hosting alumni from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds, who shared their experiences since graduating and entering the world of work. This took place as part of the University’s new initiative to address the attainment gap in degree performance between BME students and white students, which we highlighted earlier this year.
‘Career Success - The BME Experience’ was held in late October and saw over 60 staff and students participate, with the students in particular being given the opportunity to learn from the alumni and discuss personal issues they have faced.
Elorm Haligah (Politics, 2011), Natalie Haydon-Yeung (Law, 2012) and MacJay Makinde-Ojo (Environmental and Resource Engineering, 2014) spoke about their career journeys, looking to inspire those in the room to follow in their footsteps and demonstrate that a person’s background doesn’t necessarily have to have any bearing on career progression.
Elorm grew up in Hackney and is now employed by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association; which works with politicians from across the commonwealth to raise the standard of parliamentary procedure. Out of his group of friends he is the only one who doesn’t have a criminal record and from a young age he realised social inequality was a fundamental issue. As a result he feels hugely passionate about making everyone feel welcome regardless of their background and looks to empower people to succeed.
Natalie spoke about her upbringing in Nottingham, where Cantonese was her first language. “For me I wanted to not be Chinese, I didn’t appreciate how special it was to be different. I actually wanted to be the reverse – I just wanted to fit in…it was only when I was about 17 that I realised that standing out is fantastic.”
After attending a Summer School at the University she is now a solicitor at Geldards, an East Midlands law firm, and is a passionate advocate for more people from a BME background to join the legal profession. “As a family solicitor when a judge comes to make a decision about how assets should be divided during divorce proceedings there is massive scope for discrepancy. They make their decisions on what a wife can live on a month based on their personal situation. Unless you have that spread of culture I can’t understand how the system can be fair. So for me from a legal point of view I want to see more Chinese judges, more people from BME backgrounds in the legal system.”
The University has also taken further strides in its ambition to secure Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) for everyone in the staff and student community by appointing a new Pro Vice-Chancellor for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Sarah Sharples is responsible for helping shape our EDI strategy, and ensure that best practice is shared with everyone.
We are looking for more volunteers from BME groups, LGBTQ or who are disabled to help us develop our support for students and staff at the University of Nottingham. If you are interested in helping us please email Rachael Green, our Head of Volunteering.
Posted on Thursday 29th November 2018