• Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

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Michael Calder’s journey to achieve his degree at Sunderland has ended in award-winning success, but he admits it nearly didn’t happen.

The 21-year-old is the first recipient of the Michael Lavery Alumni Prize for Most Outstanding Student -English creative writing strand, and is delighted.

However, he admits: “I didn’t expect to last three weeks at university, in all honesty, so having lasted three years and be rewarded with this outstanding prize is mind blowing. To be noticed by my lecturers and peers for something as prestigious as the Michael Lavery Alumni Prize is astonishing and I can’t be grateful enough.”

Michael, who achiever First Class Honours for this the BA (Hons) in English and Creative Writing degree, had originally planned to study in Chester, but a change of heart led him to Sunderland.

“Initially, I wasn’t meant to come to Sunderland, accepting an offer in Chester early in my last year of sixth form. It wasn’t until late August that I changed my mind about moving so far. That’s when I began looking through UCAS for courses closer to home.

“I chose Sunderland because the course appealed to me more than those provided by other universities in the area, and I’d heard good reviews from past students on this course.

“In particular, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to build connections with like-minded people and lecturers. Outside of the lecture hall, being at university has also helped me transition into an adult lifestyle without being thrown in at the deep end.”

Michael, from Northumberland, will begin his Masters in English Studies course next year.

The Alumni prize was presented by Michael Lavery, who himself graduated with a degree in English from the University of Sunderland in 2000. Michael has gone on to become a successful strategic brand, marketing and communications consultant, notably working with high-profile clients across education, health, arts, industry and third sectors, nationally and internationally.

He  said: “I realised it was coming up to the 20th year since graduating from Sunderland and I was reflecting on how fortunate I have been in my career now that I am in a situation where I have become my own boss, working both nationally and internationally.

“Now I am in control of my own future I wanted to support the future of other students. It’s an incredibly competitive market and I understand the need for graduates to stand out. Having a prize awarded to a student who has shown something special during their course hopefully gives them an advantage in their future career. I am delighted to award Michael with his prize.”

Steve Watts, Head of the School of Culture at the University, says: “The School was delighted that Michael Lavery decided to create the alumni prize for Creative Writing graduates. Michael Calder is a very worthy first winner of the prize.

“Michael Lavery, as a graduate himself, is supporting the important work of the School in developing and recognising outstanding students and helping them in their next steps as graduates of the University of Sunderland.’

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