Sheffield Alumni Volunteer Awards 2016


Pioneering Alumni Award – Catherine Rankine (MEng Structural Engineering and Architecture 2013)

The Pioneering Alumni Award recognises a recent graduate that has demonstrated outstanding commitment and enthusiasm as a volunteer.

Pioneering Alumna Catherine RankineOur current and prospective students can really relate to recent graduates and ask about the current job market and securing their first role, and also offer advice on the current curriculum and provision for students.

We know it isn’t always easy to request the time off work to support these activities at the start of a career, so we are very grateful.

The shortlisted alumni for this category were:

  • Jerin Philips Rajan
  • Joshua Piggott-Smith
  • Catherine Rankine
  • Simon Marchant

Catherine was nominated for her commitment to the Global Engineering Challenge - volunteering at the day long event supporting first year students for the last three years. Catherine has also supported other initiatives, such being a mentor to a student, and providing a video profile to inspire women in Engineering.

The panel also noted:

“Catherine is an inspiration to students as a young alumna who wishes to give back and has done so consistently for 3 years. Taking time out of your career is not easy but nothing is too much trouble for Catherine, she is committed and reliable.”


Alumni Leadership Award – Mirela Arqimandriti (MBA 2004)

The Alumni Leadership Award recognises an alumnus that has shown exceptional leadership skills in their involvement with the University, often juggling personal, professional and other voluntary commitments.

The Alumni Leadership Award was collected by Chris Furness on Mirela’s behalfThe alumnus demonstrates an ongoing commitment to the values of the University, acts as an ambassador to promote the institution, shares networks, opens doors or initiates new activity to support the University, as well as inspiring students, staff or other alumni.

The shortlisted alumni for this category were:

  • Ian McConnell
  • Mirela Arqimandriti

Mirela was nominated for her work in implementing a wide range of PR and recruitment activities for the University of Sheffield programmes offered at the International Faculty in Thessaloniki. As well as organising a number of recruitment presentations at high schools and universities in Albania, Mirela has also acted as an exceptional ambassador, opening doors for University staff to visit organisations in the region and introducing members of the International Faculty to over 20 prominent academics of Albanian universities.

The panel also noted:


“Mirela has done highly impressive work in Albania that has spread awareness of the University of Sheffield. Mirela has shown long standing dedication in supporting City College and the University of Sheffield in Albania which is truly outstanding. Through single actions, Mirela has enhanced the reputation of all institutions in this emerging area, exemplifying the University’s ethos as a truly international institution.”


Sheffield Alumni Volunteer Project of the Year Award – Sheffield Connections

The Alumni Volunteer Project of the Year Award recognises alumni volunteers and staff involved in delivering an outstanding project, activity or event which has had a substantial impact on its beneficiaries.

All involved will have shared a vision and enthusiasm for the project and its aims. The project will have met University objectives in an innovative way, involved a number of partners, and been delivered to a high standard with exceptional results.

The recognised projects for this category were:

  • Charter Day 2016 (Highly Commended)
  • Sheffield Connections

This year the panel felt one project deserved to be highly commended for its outstanding reach and vision.

This commendation goes to Charter Day 2016. The project asked alumni to organise events in their home countries and brought together 700 alumni at 36 volunteer-organised events, which took place in a total of 22 countries.

The overall winner was awarded to Sheffield Connections. The project was setup to provide students, including those from a widening participation background, with an opportunity to meet successful and inspiring graduates in a relaxed and informal setting.

The panel noted:

“This innovative project supports both students and alumni simultaneously. The programme offers a platform to engage alumni with students and staff in a meaningful way, strengthening mutually beneficial arrangements. Gives students ‘real world’ experience, alumni get to learn about the University.”

Members of the team behind Charter Day 2016

Wyn Morgan with Heather Bellamy, part of the team behind Sheffield Connections



Sheffield Alumni Volunteer of the Year Award – Madhu Rao (MSc Software Systems and Internet Technology 2011)

The Alumni Volunteer of the Year Award recognises an alumnus of any graduation year and department that has demonstrated commitment, enthusiasm, inspired others and gone above and beyond the expected role of a volunteer.

Kathryn Riddle collecting the Volunteer of the Year Award on behalf of Madhu RaoThis alumnus may have contributed to a number of projects across the University, or given more than was required of the role.

The shortlisted alumni for this category were:

  • Katy Greatbatch
  • Madhu Rao
  • Katie Hunt
  • Ed Hutt

Madhu was nominated for his exceptional work in organising an event in Kuala Lumpur as part of Charter Day 2016. Not only was Madhu responsible for organising an alumni reunion but it also coincided with a visit from Faculty of Engineering staff.

Madhu’s enthusiasm and creativity was unprecedented, his comprehensive organisation of the event covered everything from logistics to negotiating a venue for free. On the night, Madhu created a warm and welcoming atmosphere resulting in a high-quality event involving senior members of staff and prospective students. Alumni feedback has shown that it was a great success, with 100% saying they felt more connected with the University as a result.

The panel also noted:

“Madhu went above and beyond creating an event that involved staff and students. When challenged, Madhu coped exceptionally with any hurdles that arose. Madhu introduced new ideas and was proactive and reactive, resulting in a very successful event in an area of key importance for the University. As the event went so well, we will be running the programme again.”


If you’re interested in volunteering, just fill out our volunteer registration form