So here’s my next blog in our series highlighting our amazing Stirling alumni family. This time I’m looking at some of our alumni who are being the difference by working to improve people’s lives across Scotland and beyond.
David Scott – Director of the Nil by Mouth Campaign
BA (Hons) Politics 2003
Since 2011 David has been the Director of the Nil by Mouth Campaign which aims to challenge sectarianism in Scotland. Growing up in Northern Ireland David witnessed the destruction that sectarianism can have on lives. This was one of the many reasons he decided to work for the campaign.
This job presented a challenge that I couldn’t let pass me by. If you are doing something you believe in you will get the best out of yourself.
David’s career was also inspired by another Stirling alumnus and our new Chancellor – the Rt Hon Lord Jack McConnell. David told me that the contributions Lord McConnell made as First Minister in tackling sectarianism in Scotland had a deep impact on him.
David also took a big step towards his current career during his studies at Stirling by securing a placement with an MSP through our Careers and Employability Service.
It’s fair to say that placement changed my life and provided me with a focus and sense of direction I was lacking before I came to Stirling. It showed me that a degree is a good thing but if it can be matched with real experience you will have much more chance of being able to do what you want with your life.
I asked David what one bit of advice he would give to current and future Stirling students. I love and very much second what he said:
We’re lucky Stirling attracts students and staff from all around the world. So take the chance to meet them and find out more about the view of the world from where they are from. Also don’t let any religion, ideology or other person tell you who you can be friends with or who you can fall in love with. Find these things out for yourself.
Karen Biggs – Charity CEO
BA (Hons) History 1989
It’s not just what you study as your degree that can steer your career path. Karen’s time as Welfare Officer at the Stirling Students’ Union helping students with their housing issues led her into a career caring for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
I still have a passion for history but the real influence on my life and subsequent career choice was as a result of my involvement in the Students’ Union.
After leaving Stirling she immediately volunteered within the homeless sector. This led her into her first job with Stonham Housing Association in 1989 working with homeless young people.
In 2007 she took up the role of Chief Executive of Phoenix Futures, a charity that supports people recovering from drug and alcohol problems. Phoenix supports over 20,000 service users each year, employs 650 staff and over 100 volunteers.
Richard Meade – Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Scotland for Marie Curie
BA (Hons) History and Politics 2001
Richard told me that he had always been interested in helping and supporting people but felt he didn’t have the aptitude or emotional resilience to work in front line services. However, with the knowledge and skills he gained from his degree studies, he knew he could help to bring about positive change for people. He currently works for Marie Curie, a charity that provides care and support for people living with a terminal illness.
Charities can and do make a difference to these people, and often life-changing differences. To be even a small part of that is hugely rewarding.
During his time at the University of Stirling Richard got fully involved in student life. He took on a number of roles in the Students’ Union, eventually being elected Vice President and Treasurer. He was also involved in the Drama Society becoming their President. While Richard enjoyed all these activities they also gave him plenty of employable skills to take out to the workforce.
Having experience of leading groups, managing events, projects and budgets were all things that employers were keen to hear about when I was applying for jobs.
Jane Ashcroft CBE – Charity CEO and HR specialist
BA History 1988
Jane is currently Chief Executive at Anchor, England’s largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care for older people. She was awarded a CBE for services to older people in 2013.
Jane has been committed to changing lives by working in the care and housing sectors for over 20 years. She led Anchor’s Grey Pride campaign where she handed over a petition of 137,000 signatures to 10 Downing Street in support of a Minister for Older People. Jane is currently on the Board of Dignity plc and is a Trustee of The Silver Line who operate a free helpline for older people across the UK.
She fondly remembers her time at the University of Stirling:
I remember being impressed by the campus from my first visit. I loved the international nature of the student group, and sharing campus flats with some fascinating people, and most of all I learnt a lot about myself and some key skills which have been the basis of my unplanned but varied career!
David McColgan – Senior Policy and Public Affairs Manager (Devolved Nations), British Heart Foundation
BA (Hons) International Politics 2007
David’s first role after graduation was as a Scottish Government adviser. Working there raised his awareness of the third sector, so when the opportunity came for him to join a charitable organisation he jumped at it.
David’s current role lets him combine his interest in politics with his work trying to improve people’s lives across Scotland.
My position offers many great opportunities to engage with our researchers, those living with cardiovascular disease and those taking on amazing feats to raise funds in memory of loved ones they have lost to ensure no other families experience the same fate.
David has many great memories of his time at Stirling so I asked him what one piece of advice he would give to current and prospective University of Stirling students. It’s pretty good advice!
Get the full student experience. University is a place where you work hard and play hard. Join clubs, try a new sport, but make sure you take advantage of the four years you are at Stirling. You’ll find out things about yourself the further you get away your comfort zone and embrace it.