At the end of last week, I was out volunteering again.  This time at graduation.  I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never volunteered for this before, and I’ve been working here for 13 years.  I’d never actually been to see the end event, the culmination of all that hard work for all those people.  The instant I got there I wondered why I hadn’t got on board this celebration train sooner!  It was fantastic!  Such a good atmosphere, lots of smiles, amazing outfits, and organised like a military operation.  The Advancement Team did such a good job, in spite of a massive IT outage, everything ran smoothly, and outside of the odd lost and then found phone, everyone had such a good time.  I spent an afternoon speaking to lovely, happy graduates, meeting and greeting, taking pictures of them with their friends and family, and joining in the celebration!  I also met Emma, the woman inside the Maxwell the Lion outfit for the day…it was 25 degrees, I got sunburn, so hats off to her!

Like Open Day, graduation reminds you of why we’re all here, and it makes all our hard work, supporting our students through their degrees, helping them to achieve, and starting them on their working journey.  That’s a real privilege, and all those happy faces last week are testament to how well we do it.  We should be so proud of that!

The ICZs are going to provide the support to further enhance our student experience.  They’re going to provide the opportunity and the supporting structure to help make our graduates become more “work ready” and more employable, whether that’s building curriculum with industry partners, or the development of live briefs, flexible work based learning, or through partnered research and innovation.  Here’s an example.  Back over on our Engineering Showcase tour the week before last, I spoke to a Civil Engineering student, Gemma.  She was working on a project creating cardboard origami floor joists using new technology and materials provided by a local company, Gatorduct.  The Managing Director, Karl Sullivan is Salford Alumni.  The plan is to develop the joists for use in disaster relief shelters.  That’s huge!  It’s a fantastic opportunity for Gemma to learn and apply her knowledge, but it’s also great for Karl and Gatorduct, for the School, the University, the world!  That’s what it’s all about.  That’s the tangible outcome of an exceptional industry partnership, it’s a change maker.  Let’s do more of it!

In other exciting Alumni news, Team ICZ has a new member.  Marina Hristova, our last Students’ Union President has joined the team as the lead for the “Our People and the ICZ Programme” work stream.  She was at graduation too, to wave off her final cohort as the outgoing Students’ Union President as she starts her own journey with us, and we’re lucky to have her!  She’s got so many great ideas of how to get people involved, to help you really understand what ICZs are and what they mean for you.  She’s enthusiastic and excited to be on board and such great energy for the team, but then of course she is, she’s one of our Alumni!  She’s home grown!