On the evening of Friday 4th September, we were delighted to see the alumni community come together for our annual alumni celebration.

Although we couldn’t meet face to face, there was still an atmosphere of excitement and celebration.

One of the highlights of the evening was the announcement of the winners of our first ever alumni awards competition. It was a delight to shine a spotlight on some of the most outstanding alums and the work they are doing in their chosen fields.

Now, without any further ado, you can now hear from our award winners!

In the outstanding achievement category

Winner: Kike Oniwinde (UK Summer School 2010)

Runner up: Temi Mwale (US Programme 2012)

Kike was awarded this prize for her work as the Founder and CEO of the BYP Network, a platform that connects Black professionals with each other and corporations. Kike has already been named one of Forbes’ 30 under 30 and the network recently secured over $1.1 million in equity crowdfunding.

Temi was selected for this prize for her work as a racial justice campaigner and Founding Director of The 4Front Project, a member-led youth organisation empowering young people and communities to fight for justice, peace and freedom. 4FRONT is transforming the way in which society understands how to support communities affected by violence and shaping the agenda around how to address the systemic causes of it.

In the Covid-19 response category

Winner: Liam Whitton (UK Summer School 2007)

Runner up: Maurice Yap (UK Summer School 2014)

Liam is one of the co-founders of Oxford’s #HonourTheOffer campaign. Here’s what he had to say about his work on the campaign and on winning this award:

‘When we initially proposed to some friends that we campaign for Oxford colleges to honour their uni offers (in light of the Government’s nakedly discriminatory approach to grading A Levels), my friend Hannah (O’Rourke) and I were initially met with scepticism. We knew having attended struggling comprehensives ourselves that, if we had been in the class of 2020, we would have missed our offers too – and we knew that was true for so many other people, not just at Oxford but across the sector. But very quickly the wheels started moving, and it was exciting to see our open letter pick up steam, as well as headlines, as colleges responded and a campaign to #HonourTheOffer spread to universities around the country. In the end, 10,000 alumni signed our letter and roughly half of Oxford colleges agreed to honour all offers, with more making huge strides towards putting trust in their own entry criteria and tests, rather than someone else’s grade as awarded by an algorithm. We are truly glad if it made an impact for this year’s freshers, at Oxford and elsewhere and I’m delighted as a Sutton Trust alumni to have our campaign recognised in this way.”

Maurice was selected for creating Lingiust Aid, an online platform which connects volunteers who speak, read or write foreign languages with local mutual aid groups and charities, helping out in their communities around the UK during lockdown. This is what Maurice said about being selected:

“It was a genuine honour to be recognised by the Sutton Trust for my work. Seeing the vast array of incredible achievements of others who come from a similar background to me was really inspiring; it made me feel even more proud to be a part of this alumni community!”

In the social mobility category

Winner: Anna Louise Thomond (UK Summer School 2010)

Runner up: Daniel Dipper (UK Summer School 2019)

The judging panel chose Anna-Louise for this award in recognition of all the work she does for social mobility. She is an Employment Associate in the London office of DLA Piper, where she co-ordinates the firm’s Head Start Programme: an initiative providing long-term support to school and university students facing social, cultural or economic challenges, with the aim of improving equality of opportunity and breaking down barriers faced by under-represented groups when entering the legal profession. She also supports DLA Piper’s work as legal sector lead for the UK Social Mobility Pledge. Alongside her role in driving forward organisational change in her workplace, Anna-Louise works with the Trust as a member of the Pathways Advisory Group. She also speaks at events, sharing best practice on how organisations across different sectors can work to improve social mobility. Anna-Louise had this to say about he work at DLA Piper:

Our people and our clients expect us to have a thoughtful approach to social mobility, and sustainable change requires collaboration across our sector, with clients and government.”

Finally, Daniel was chosen for his work to dedication social mobility, which he champions across a large number of organisations. His work includes setting up Get To University, a social media group to support students preparing for university, and raising the profile of social mobility issues in the media. This was his take on the night:

“The alumni celebration truly highlighted the life-changing impact the Sutton Trust has on individuals involved, from Ashley-John Baptiste’s powerful story to the many successes celebrated and all the deserving recipients and runner-ups of the awards. The evening was incredibly enjoyable, it truly was a celebration despite it being virtual, and I hope the Sutton Trust will continue to open doors and continue to grow as an organization so that there truly are fair opportunities for all in society.”

It was a true joy to be able to celebrate the incredible achievements of the alumni community as a whole and the achievements over the past year of all our winners and nominees. We can’t wait to see what they do next… and who wins next year!

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