Alumni portraits

My journey with the University of Plymouth

The Alumni Portraits project was launched in 2014 to showcase the work of some inspiring Plymouth alumni. Meet some of our graduates as they share their personal reflections on their time at Plymouth, and where that experience has taken them now.

“Painting is about a conversation you have with the piece; sometimes you have to make compromises because it wants to go in a certain way. If I can capture something that is really visceral, if it has life behind it and can breathe on its own and have energy, then I’m winning in what I’m doing.”

Antony Micallef

BA Fine Art 

University of Plymouth graduate (1998)

“I wanted to work with people suffering from leprosy, so I applied to the Roland Levinsky Memorial Fund and was able to travel to Vietnam. I met many people, but the memory of one man has stayed with me above all else. Looking into his deep eyes, I could tell that he had seen and experienced things that I could not even imagine. They told of struggle, love, separation, a deep sadness and yet he seemed at peace, with a calm acceptance. I will never forget those eyes.”  

Maria Thaller

BSc (Hons) Physiotherapy 

University of Plymouth graduate (2014)

“A lot of students come out of university with the artistic flair, poetic and philosophical side of architecture but if you’re going to convince an engineer and your contractors to buy into your design, you have to be able to focus on the detail of how the space functions, how people will use it and crucially the construction aspects of it.”

Suchindra Reddy

BA Architecture 

University of Plymouth graduate (2003)

Associate, Boyes Rees Architects Ltd

“I’m living proof that even at 45, a Master’s degree can open doors and create new and exciting opportunities; it’s never too late to learn.”

“The University of Plymouth has helped me transform my career and enjoy better job satisfaction, as well as far greater earning potential. I just wish I’d grasped the nettle at an earlier stage and sought a higher education when I was younger.”

Jamie Staples

MSc Planning

The University of Plymouth graduate (2013)

“There’s an old saying that you ‘look with your fingertips’ when it comes to working with wood, and that’s absolutely true. It’s such a warm and tactile material, I’ve always loved working with it. But at university I was a sponge, soaking up the specialities of my teachers, and learning to work with new materials like plastic and metal. I learned from experimenting and making mistakes, and from listening to those around me.” 

Joe Kennedy

BA (Hons) 3D Design

University of Plymouth graduate (2013)

Awarded Best Exhibit at the Young Furniture Makers Exhibition 2014

“It was during my second year that one of my lecturers recommended that I attend a debate in London on the issue of the death penalty. I came home that night and I knew what it was that I wanted to do. Now, I represent defendants facing the death penalty in the State of Georgia."

Rachael Walsh


University of Plymouth graduate (2012)

Mitigation Specialist, Northeast Georgia Regional Capital Defender

"The skills I learnt at the University of Plymouth helped me develop my passion for product design. Through the opportunities made available to me I have been able to develop a social enterprise, business and ultimately a career that makes a positive difference." 

"With determination, hard work and the right support, the possibilities are endless."

Rebecca Barber 

BA (Hons) in 3D Design

University of Plymouth graduate (2010)

“Conservation has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I was drawn to Plymouth because I really felt as though they believed in what they were teaching. I’m now a sustainability communications consultant, helping businesses to become greener. Many of my contemporaries on the degree have gone on to work in research, or out in the field. But I was always in it for the chance to change things…hands on, and from within.”

Jazz Singh-Khaira

BSc (Hons) Wildlife Conservation 

University of Plymouth graduate (2011)

"I was on my placement. Someone said to me ‘You’ve changed’. And I thought, ‘I have’. The University of Plymouth experience took me from being a very shy, quiet person to being this person controlling crowds and moving people about."

"It gave me confidence and self belief.”

Matt Kemp

BSc (Hons) Cruise Management

University of Plymouth graduate (2012)

“A dancer becomes confident when they learn and practise their moves and steps. But through Contact Improvisation, I now have a different confidence – a confidence in myself. I know that I can walk into a room having discarded everything at the door.”

Abigail Jackson

MRes Dance

University of Plymouth graduate (2014)

PhD student in the Transtechnology Research Department

"A group of us would go mackerel fishing off the Hoe, we’d catch what we could and then barbecue them on the rocks. At Plymouth I had some of the most amazing coastline, moorland, and forests right on my door. This is a place to inspire people."

Thom Hunt

BSc (Hons) Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology

University of Plymouth graduate (2004)

“I grew up with a pen in my hand; I was the type of pupil who was always drawing in maths lessons. So I knew from an early age that I wanted to be an illustrator. But what Plymouth gave me was quite subtle: I began to consider my audience and my context, and I learned how to promote myself as a freelance illustrator.”  

Ben Wills

BA (Hons) Illustration

University of Plymouth graduate (2014)

"When injury forced me to turn my back on professional football, I was at a low ebb but I had always loved chemistry, and enrolling at the University of Plymouth re-ignited that passion and enthusiasm."

"Our work is having an impact across the world, and the University offered me opportunities I could never really have imagined.” 

Dr Charles West

BSc (Hons) Analytical Chemistry

University of Plymouth graduate (2002)

“From the earliest age I’ve always been fascinated by water. When I was a child, my Dad had an aquarium, and I used to sit and watch the fish for hours. Now I’m working towards gaining a better understanding of how our seas react and recover. I get to see the wider picture.”

Sophie Cousens 

MRes Marine Biology

University of Plymouth graduate (2010)

Project Support Officer, University of Plymouth Marine Institute

"Art is a gift that has completely transformed my life. It started out as a means of personal empowerment, but became even more meaningful when I realised it had become not just my passion but, people tell me, a source of true inspiration for others."

"The people at Plymouth have pushed my ambitions and imagination to new levels.”

Sue Austin 

BA (Hons) Fine Art

University of Plymouth graduate (2009)