Taking the stage at this year’s graduation ceremonies were four remarkable members of Southampton’s alumni community. Jane Wernick CBE, Tolúlọpẹ́ Ògúnrẹ̀mí, Kaushal Shah and Stephen Dulake were the worthy winners of the University’s 2023 Outstanding Alumni Awards.
The Outstanding Alumni Awards recognise the achievements of Southampton’s talented alumni across the world and the ongoing contribution they make to the University’s reputation as ambassadors and exemplars for our students.
This year, for the first time, winners were able to directly address the roomful of graduating students, passing on their advice and inspiring stories firsthand. We were also delighted to sit down with our winners to hear about the part that Southampton has played in their lives, and the journeys they have been on since their own graduations.
Jane Wernick CBE
BSc Civil Engineering, 1976
Jane Wernick CBE is a structural engineer who likes to work on projects that give delight. She has played a leading role in the design of many important projects both in the UK and abroad. These include the London Eye, the Kew Treetop Walkway and the Young Vic Theatre.
She started working with Arup, the multinational firm of built environment consultants before starting her course at Southampton. She worked there until 1998, being seconded to the permanent fabric contractor Birdair, in Buffalo, from 1980 to 1981. She was Arup’s first female structural engineer to be made an Associate and an Associate Director. She ran Arup’s Los Angeles office from 1986 to 1989.
In 1998 Jane founded Jane Wernick Associates, working on high-profile projects with architects including David Chipperfield and Zaha Hadid. She taught at many architecture and engineering schools, and has served as a member of various design review panels, the EDGE think tank, and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Building Futures Steering Committee. Jane was also the Chair of the Diversity Task Force of the Construction Industry Council. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2009.
Jane has received many awards and honours for her work, including First Woman of the Built Environment award in 2013 and the CBE for services to Structural and Civil Engineering in 2015.
BSc Mathematics and Computer Science, 2019
Tolúlọpẹ́ is the Founder of Coders of Colour, a social enterprise helping young people between the ages of 11 and 25 to access training in machine learning, app development and bridge the digital divide. She is also currently enrolled on a PhD in Computer Science at Stanford University, having secured two coveted fellowships.
In her first year at Southampton, she established Coders of Colour alongside her programme of academic study. Coders of Colour aims to “empower and enable young people of colour to pursue a career in tech by providing them with a safe space for them to learn, explore and grow” and has delivered workshops with partners including Tate Britain and the Oxford AI society.
Tolúlọpẹ́’s doctoral research focuses on Natural Language Processing or NLP for low-resource languages, particularly in sub-Saharan African languages including her heritage language, Yorùbá. She has built speech-recognition systems and trained natural language processing models for Yorùbá and other Sub-Saharan African languages as well as working on projects using Igbo, Nigerian Pidgin, and Nigerian accented English data.
In 2021 she was named in the Forbes 30 under 30 listings in the Social Impact category for her work with Coders of Colour, the youngest honouree in the category.
Tolúlọpẹ́ will be in conversation with Pascal Matthias Associate V-P (EDI and Social Justice) for a special event for Black History Month on 30th October 2023. Register to attend.
MSc Global Entrepreneurship, 2014
Kaushal Shah is a successful entrepreneur, award-winning CEO and Founder of sustainable packaging company EnvoPAP and a dedicated volunteer who has shown continued support for the University.
Kaushal was the first student to be endorsed by the University for the Graduate Entrepreneurship Visa for EnvoPAP, a sustainable enterprise that he started during his time as a student at Southampton. EnvoPAP produces environmentally friendly paper and packaging made from agricultural waste. Since graduating, Kaushal has gone on to win numerous awards for his work in business and sustainability.
Kaushal regularly gives his time and expertise to support the next generation of entrepreneurs through a wide range of activities including talks, serving on judging panels and competitions, as well as providing one-to-one guidance to students.
He also sits as a member of Southampton Business School’s Advisory Board, and actively participates in the University’s Social Impact Lab Advisory Board, through which he has been instrumental in connecting students with relevant business mentors. He has also helped students to learn in the ‘real world’ by allowing them to engage with EnvoPAP as a live brief.
MSc Economics 1990
Stephen Dulake is Global Head of Credit, Securitized Products and Public Finance Research at JP Morgan Chase & Co.
Stephen donated the first ever Ignite Scholarship in 2017, funding one student’s entire tuition fees and maintenance support. He wanted to provide a student with the same opportunities that he enjoyed at University, whilst not having to worry about their finances.
The Ignite Programme has since grown to become the University’s flagship widening participation and social mobility (WPSM) programme. The programme has raised over £1 million, supporting 90 students with financial support and access to the innovative programme of workshops, mentoring and internships.
Stephen’s foundational support of the Ignite Programme has made a difference to the lives of many of Southampton’s students already and will continue to do so into the future. Since Stephen made his original gift, hundreds of alumni and supporters have added their support to allow the Ignite Programme to develop and flourish. Stephen himself has funded two further scholarships.
Each of the bursaries and scholarships awarded are life changing for the students. Stephen is actively engaged with the programme and always enjoys hearing how students are getting on, but has often said that his main wish is that his support will simply help students to enjoy their time at University and make the most of all the opportunities here.