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At the University of Chester, we’re all about making a difference. A difference to our students’ lives and the difference they make during and after their time with us.  

Our community of citizen students use their education to improve the world around them and really do what matters. Here’s an insight into what just a few of our previous students have achieved since completing their studies at the University of Chester.

Tackling equal opportunities and diversity

Recent Modern Languages graduate, Austen, gives us an insight into his role at Audi Brussels, where he is a Diversity Consultant supporting and developing strategic and operational policy on equal opportunities and diversity.

“Working to promote cultural change at Audi Brussels is truly rewarding. I am so passionate about our brand, our products and what we value. We are currently rolling out diversity training for all the management at the Brussels site. In our management training we discuss why diversity and inclusion are important for the future success of Audi Brussels. We do this by tackling our unconscious biases. All human beings have them, but we need to become more aware of them. By not doing so, we cannot make fair and objective judgements.

Without my language skills it is fair to say that I would not be able to do the job. Two Belgian languages and English are essential for the role. My degree prepared me beyond a purely linguistic basis however; it offered a global scope and you learn to understand the cultures of where languages are spoken. This gave me so much inspiration and motivation to set solid goals and always aim higher.

My plans for the future are to continue to drive change. I absolutely adore my job.”

Saving the planet, one t-shirt at a time

Since graduating from the University of Chester, Alex and Michael founded A.M. Custom Clothing, a small start up looking to make waves in the textiles industry. It has quickly become one of the fastest growing wholesale providers of custom printed and embroidered clothing, with organisations and brands worldwide now using A.M. Custom Clothing as their trusted supplier. But that’s not all – the brand has worked to launch a range of sportswear made from recycled plastic bottles, as the industry’s use of plastic in clothing continues to grow faster than other material.

Alex, who studied Graphic Design, said: “While we endeavour to educate our customers that polyester isn’t the best choice, we’ve become acutely aware that in some circumstances it can be the only option for them.”

Michael, who studied Business Management and Entrepreneurship, added: “If polyester is an essential for any of our customers, we want to ensure we’re offering the most innovative options, alongside diverting plastic from landfill. We understand that this is in no way a silver bullet, but want to provide options that are more sustainable than the traditional alternatives.”

It takes five to six plastic bottles to make one of their recycled t-shirts or running vests. As a result of this innovation, their fabric suppliers have recycled 14.2 billion plastic bottles so far, alongside avoiding 385 million kilograms of C02.

Alex said: “Michael and I spent some time giving advice to young people pitching their business ideas in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals at the Houses of Parliament. Talking to a room full of inspiring and energetic young people from every continent, we have been able to help encourage others to be ambassadors of positive change across a whole breadth of industries.

Whilst what we do is fantastic for those in our supply chain, that’s just the start! We can only ensure real change globally when business leaders and young change makers are all on the same page.”

Bringing children’s mental health to the fore

Fine Art and Education Studies graduate, Joseph, became a primary school teacher following completing his degree at the University of Chester and undertaking teacher training with the University and Ignite Teaching School Alliance. Little did Joseph know that this would lead to the publication of a children’s book that would be sought after by mental health professionals, among many others.

 “Shortly after I started teaching, mental ill-health impacted close family for the first time. We found ourselves navigating a new emotional challenge as a family, and we were completely unprepared. Together, we slowly started to teach ourselves, and each other, the value of being emotionally honest; honest with ourselves about how we were feeling and honest with each other. The experience of being totally unprepared to navigate mental illness caused me and my brother, Tom (also a primary school teacher), to reflect on our roles as teachers. What is our education system doing to prepare children to navigate the emotional challenges that life brings? What is a teacher’s role in this?

When the lens through which I saw the role of a teacher shifted, I started working on a new project with my brother. I think the most important project, both professionally and personally, that I have ever worked on. My brother and I co-created a book called Bottled, a picture book, written and illustrated by us. It is deliberately designed to support vital conversations with children about their feelings, their mental health and the importance of developing their emotional honesty. The rhyming picture book takes children on a journey into their emotions, and facilitates six key conversations that will help children to build their own emotional atlas.

Initially, we made the book to use in our own classrooms, and then last year, a tweet I posted with images from the book got a surprising response. People reached out to ask how they could get their own copy. We had teachers, parents, social workers, children’s mental health professionals and many more asking. The reaction was big enough for Unbound, the world’s largest crowdfunding publisher, to reach out to us. Since that day, we have partnered with Unbound, and with 650 people pledging their money to support Bottled, it will now become a published book later this year.

It was my time at the University of Chester that guided me onto a path that has led me to this project, and I am so thankful for that.”

Our students are people who won’t stand on the side lines and who use their voices and ideas to bring about positive change. And to help our students do what matters when they’re out in the world, we help them to get what counts from their time studying with us.

If this sounds like something you want to be a part of, you can explore our undergraduate courses and opportunities through our dedicated undergraduate area.

You can find out more about the difference our alumni have been making in the University’s ACH1EVE magazine, which is put together by DARO (Development and Alumni Relations Office).

If you’re a graduate of the University of Chester and would like to share your story for the magazine or future alumni blogs, please contact alumni@chester.ac.uk

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